Metiendo Vivendum - a Tribute to Sir Edwin Lutyens
Metiendo Vivendum (By Measure We Live), A Tribute to Sir Edwin Lutyens is
the main work of this exhibition by artist Carl Laubin and his latest capriccio.
The painting is a celebration of the architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens, described as “the greatest British architect since Wren”, on the seventieth anniversary of his death and on the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War which Lutyens movingly commemorated in numerous memorials on the Somme, in Britain and around the world.
The painting has been three years in the making, the idea first occurring to
Laubin during a chance visit to Castle Drogo in Devon, as he was returning
home from a trip to Cornwall. Casual trips to see country houses soon turned
into more organized methodical outings as the sheer volume of Lutyens’s
output became apparent. As many buildings as it was possible to see were
visited and drawn up individually and drawings were found for unbuilt works.
Houses it was not possible to visit were researched and whatever drawings
and photographs were available were redrawn to a consistent level of detail.
Comparison of these drawings led to the realization that there was an
enormous disparity in scale between Lutyens’s domestic architecture and his
great unbuilt masterpiece, Liverpool Cathedral, and the decision for the
capriccio was made to depict all the buildings at the same scale of 1:200
rather than in perspective, so that their relative sizes could be compared.
This made it clear just how large his projected Liverpool Cathedral would have
been had it been completed. At the Museum of Liverpool, we are fortunate to
have Lutyens’s wonderful model of the Cathedral which gives an
incomparable understanding of the building’s form and appearance; but the
painting gives the building’s scale a context by surrounding it with more
familiarly scaled domestic and urban buildings. Liverpool Cathedral would
have been the second largest cathedral in the world after St. Peters Basilica in
Vatican City. A church like Palladio’s San Giorgio in Venice would be the width
of the central entrance arch with its two flanking piers, and as John
Summerson pointed out in an essay on the Cathedral, many of Wren’s larger
City churches such as St Mary-le-Bow would be roughly the same size as each
of the two projected internal chapels which would have been located behind
the sanctuary of the main Cathedral nave.
The importance of scale to the composition of the painting led to the
adoption of Lutyens’s own motto, Metiendo Vivendum (By Measure We Live)
as the title of the painting, with the subtitle A Tribute to Sir Edwin Lutyens
referring to C. R. Cockerell's famous painting of the work of Lutyens's great
hero Wren, A Tribute to Sir Christopher Wren.
Other works in the exhibition were completed during the same period of time
as Metiendo Vivendum and include smaller studies of individual Lutyens
buildings and gardens as well as paintings detaching from work at Castle
Howard and for the Driehaus Prize; there are some sourced from the initial
trip to Cornwall that led to visiting Drogo; and further works referencing an
escape from the grip of Lutyens to the San Juan Islands in Washington State.