Fortnum and Mason is a busy painting. Lots of colour and texture everywhere. Two main colours dominate, orange/brown and blue/green. The scene is Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly, a long-established, respectable firm with a reputation reaching back a few centuries to 1707.
The first thing you notice is the clock, and below that there’s a sculpture but “I don’t remember that” you say. Unless you were there in 2016, you probably won’t, for that’s when I took the photograph on which this painting is based. That’s not the only curiousity though. That clock’s another. The Clock dominates and looks incongruous – French Louis XVI style against English neoclassical. They jar.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the clock was ancient, part of the long history of the building but you’d be wrong. It first appeared in 1964 and quickly became a recognisable feature of the store. Located, as it is, in such a prominent location above the main entrance, you’d be hard pushed to miss it.
In contrast, the sculpture below Sitting Couple on a Bench by Lynn Chadwick is a newcomer, a positive up-start. Created in 1990, it was a temporary feature in 2016 when art came to the London store courtesy of Frank Cohen.
The contrast between the curlicues of the clock the dated baroque style in contrast to the Modernist, angular shapes of the Sitting Couple on a Bench. Mottled green texture besides gilded flourishes, pastel green with painted details of lush green and red. Top that with a profusion of gold. The building itself is ordered and regimented above but descends into flourishes and flounces below the awning. Colours ranging from brick reds, plum purples and ice blues and far too much viridian than should ever be allowed in any single painting.
The clock itself is beyond description.
Kitch in the extreme, it’s over the top extravagance, pastel green with white details and gilding. The ridiculous curls on the hands makes reading them almost impossible, and the two figures of the founders themselves could come from a performance of the Nutcracker Suite. Look carefully and you can make out the letters F and M on the 2 owls, perching atop the little doorways.