‘Sistine Chapel of UK’ re-opens

‘Sistine Chapel of UK’ re-opens

LONDON - Reuters
‘Sistine Chapel of UK’ re-opens

An elaborate London hall, dubbed by some as the "Sistine Chapel of the UK" because of its baroque interior and ceiling, is re-opening its doors after a two-year conservation project.

The Painted Hall of the 17th century Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich is decorated with the work of British artist James Thornhill, which he began in 1707 and finished in 1726.

Conservation director Will Palin said the work, depicting English naval prowess, monarchs as well as mythological figures, had been cleaned and had lost paint flakes restored during the 8.5 million pound ($11 million) project.

Old Royal Naval College Chief Executive Angela McConville said the comparison to the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, where throngs of people queue to see Michelangelo's frescoes, was made "because [the hall] is the most significant painted interior in the UK.”

"It is 40,000 square-meter of baroque decorative painting ... an extraordinary achievement ... of international significance," McConvill said.

"What Thornhill has created is a cast of characters. He is wanting to illustrate a range of things that are happening in Britain at that time. It is an epic statement of the cultural, naval, and maritime achievements of the nation."