Friday, March 9, 2012

Carnton Mansion: A Lesson Learned the Hard Way

It should go without saying that light and art do not mix. I know this. If I were to ever take another art test and the question were posed about exposing artwork to natural sunlight I would always mark that it is wrong. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Yet, a little less than five years ago when John and I moved into our home we went right ahead and slapped our favorite print on a wall which receives ooodles of natural light. And somehow, over these last fifty-four months, the consequences of doing such failed to catch my attention - until just the other night.

In 1989, John, my husband the history buff, participated as an extra in the filming of a historical documentary in Franklin, Tennessee. The subject was the Battle of Franklin and his scenes were filmed at the beautiful Carnton Plantation. He played a wounded soldier. Alas, new to the whole acting thing he made the mistake of looking at the camera and his scene found itself on the cutting room floor.

When he returned home, however, he was almost as excited about a limited edition John Black print - Carnton Mansion - he had seen for sale as he was about being in a "movie." But, he said it was way too pricey to even consider purchasing. We were newlyweds. I was in college. He was the only one working (a real job). It cost $100. But I knew I had to get it for him. It would be a Christmas gift.

I had it shipped to my mom's house and later took it to a local frame shop. I picked out the frame and a trio of mats and was told it would cost around 75 bucks. So, I saved the little money I received from a college work-study program and when the time came to pick it up, it took every bit of the seventy-seven dollars I had in my wallet. But I was thrilled. I went directly home, told John to come to the car, and gave it to him on the spot. It was only November but I couldn't wait one minute longer.

Carnton Mansion was the first "grown-up" gift I ever bought my husband and because of that it has always held a dear spot in our hearts and been featured in prominent spots in our homes.

My purchase was also a good investment, as the print is today worth about twelve times what it originally cost. Well, it would be worth that had someone (myself) put a little more thought into its current placement.

Isn't it lovely? This is how Carnton should look.

And this is what we're left with today. Four years of sunlight through the three very large, high windows in our living room has reduced it to this.

Needless to say and too late to matter much I guess, but the print will be coming down within a day or two and placed somewhere else in the house. I know it may sound super trivial but it feels almost as if we've lost a piece of our history and I feel quite sick over it.

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