Moorish Alcove

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Moorish Alcove

The elaborate decoration of this alcove was inspired by Annie and Merton’s visit to the Moorish Palace of Alhambra, Granada, Spain, in 1910. Merton’s inspiration also came after visiting the artist Lord Frederic Leighton and seeing the Arab Hall at his London house in 1896. The alcove features trompe l’oeil decoration. Trompe l’oeil, meaning ‘trick of the eye’, is a technique which creates the illusion of three dimensions through decorating a two-dimensional surface. The yellow jug is an example of this technique. When you visit the neighbouring Yellow Room, see if you can spot the real jug which provided the inspiration for this decorative feature. It was painted by an unknown muralist, who left his initials ‘J.M.’ on the coving. However, Oliver Thomas, who completed many of the other murals in the house, appears to have added the finishing touches, including the swallows and yellow jug. The Arabic script written below the dome translates as ‘There is no Victor but God’ repeated twelve times. Originally, the fully glazed dome was not intended to house a central light. However, Annie and Merton may have realised that at night, or on dark winter days, this area was too gloomy and added one. Prior to 1922, when the Museum first opened, the door to the Study was permanently closed and blocked by furniture and works of art.

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