Thursday, December 28, 2006

Best General View of Kenilworth Castle

Carleton E. Watkins, "Yosemite Valley, Best General View" (1866)

In the nineteenth century, artists and photographers looked for what they called "the best general view" of a landscape or monument—the "finest and most comprehensive view," which encompassed what was best and most characteristic in a scene. For the nineteenth-century American photographic pioneer Carleton Watkins, this was the "best general view" of the Yosemite Valley.

I've been wondering, since we arrived in Kenilworth, what would be the "best general view" of Kenilworth Castle. In the fall, most of my walks took me to the northeast of the castle, but lately I've been walking to the southeast, and I've become convinced that the "best general view" is from that direction—especially now that the low winter sun brings out the shadows and the warm pink glow of the stone. This photograph was taken on the footpath leading from the Pleasaunce, the pleasure grounds built for King Henry V in 1414. Notice the mud puddles around the kissing gate—an almost unavoidable feature of country walks in England, and the reason that Wellington boots are standard equipment.

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