Wednesday, October 10, 2012
A Gorey-esque Knight
This past weekend, we visited the newly expanded American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis with visiting family members. The original portion of the museum is housed in a home/castle built in 1908 for Swedish immigrant publisher Swan Turnblad. Mr. Turnblad donated the home to the Institute in 1929, and it has been a center for cultural events since that time.
The home itself is a structure worthy of Edward Gorey's imagination, with turrets, crazy passages and rooms, carvings inside and out, and a second floor conservatory over a porte cochere. At the turn of the grand staircase is the entrance to the elevated conservatory, and this entrance is surrounded by a wall of pictorial stained glass. Comprised of three individual stained glass windows the wall showcases one large horizontal street scene depicting an event in Sweden's history which spans the length of the landing, and two smaller windows on either side of the doorway into the conservatory, each showing a knight.
The knight to the right of the doorway looks as if it has stepped out of an Edward Gorey drawing from the John Bellairs book series. Everything about this guardian reminded us of Gorey's work, from the stance, to the detailed painting, and the colors chosen. What really changes this from a standard stained glass depiction of a knight guarding an entrance is the head of the knight. The faceless armor is all the more striking because of the eyes looking out from the slits in the face mask. These eyes stare out at passerby and follow you wherever you go on the landing! We expected to be stopped and questioned as we passed by.