Architectural Sketch, by Viscount Dumaurier


 Castle Harbour, by Viscount Dumaurier

 Masque Ball, by Viscount Dumaurier

Performance Artists, by Viscount Dumaurier

It was not until we were on the road to Villa Ada in Italy that the Viscount opened his sketchbook and showed me his work. The carriage bumped and swayed over the rutted roads, from recent rain, unseasonal, but welcome. Certainly the Venetians knew how to be festive, and Christmas was a long event, weeks went by with one entertainment after another. We watched the displays of light in the evening sky, the travelling minstrels as they told their tales and enacted their evening performances outdoors.

His leather bound book of parchment paper revealed sketches of architecture, of a castle we passed while approaching the harbour, an image of my fair self at the Venetian Masque Ball, and true to life likenesses of the players, who had amused us in the leafy glade. He was indeed a great artist, and I had much to learn from his eye and pen…

(copyright Imogen Crest 2007.)
(clip art courtesy karenswhimsy online.)


Christmas in Venice

Some things might never change through history.  The Viscount thought it prudent we make use of the largest coffee house once in Rome, to find out what the Romans were doing, what they were talking about, and gain certain intelligence.  There was an article in the newspaper on board the ship he asked me to read through, which fascinated me. 

Villa Ada was also still at the back of my mind, visions of arcadian splendour, sunbaked loggia and sweeping wisteria vine.  I longed to see it.  The salty sea air blew gently warmer, as we had come closer to our destination, but still had no sight of land.  A wandering player serenaded us on his ancient violin, walking the crowded decks, as the sun began to set.  It shimmered across the ocean which was calm like rippled silk.   

Other travellers, encouraged by the windless eve, set out their card tables, arranging themselves with their wine and coins, chattering amongst themselves.  There was much talk of Christmas in Venice, barely ten days away, which excited one and all.  It was known the festivities could run into a month, with much merriment and colour in the streets. 

I thought of home, the rolling hills now blanketed with snow, the sea a rolling tide of white angry foam.  The wildflowers on the hillside would be buffetted by the wind, leaning into the shelter of the hills and rocky coast.  Yet here the breeze was like a comforting balm, as if the violin music had bewitched all, languishing as they, and we did, on the decks toward Rome.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

(image from own vintage greeting card.)

Speaking of Virgil…

December 3, 2006

“…Interestingly,” said the Viscount, swaying slightly with the ship dipping and diving through the waves, as we stood on the middle deck watching the blue views of water and sky, “…Virgil explains the account of the beginnings of Rome in his epic, ‘The Aeneid’…”  The Viscount had an eloquence that even though his role involved a lot of speaking, he was never dull to listen to.  Stories and history poured from within him, like water from an ornate fountain. 

Often I made notes in my journal, which was always in my dress pocket.  I had leafed tentatively through the copy of this epic he had thrust at me, but most of all I loved the image on it’s cover, where one of the celestial beings visits Aeneas, the hero of the tale.  I had come on this journey to find beauty.  More favoured in my mind is ‘Georgics’, which speak of idyllic pastoral modes of living, bees and hives and olive groves basking in the sun.  Still, this was relevant to the history of the place we were to begin our journey, and I wanted to hear about Rome, and make the most of my tutor’s encyclopaedic mind.  Soon we would arrive, and my eyes would be opened to a new vista, a new way of seeing the world.  He also spoke about the ‘Villa Ada’, a stately green part of Rome…

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

When Imogen met with the Viscount, before he said anything, he suggested she take the items he gave her into her luggage as fragments for the tour.  Needless to say she was intrigued.  A piece of old marble and a shard of oriental china.  He said he received them once from a potter named Orlando Non Furioso, in the famed “City of Ladies” in Lemuria, who had unearthed them from underneath his studio there.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)


Imogen Crest is leaving from Southampton on her Grand Tour.  Her tutor is the distinguished artistic genius and entrepeneur, Viscount Armstrong Dumaurier. 

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)