'Old King Cole' Murals by Guido d'Aquili

D'Aquili 4

According to the old 17th-century English nursery rhyme "Old King Cole was a merry old soul," which is perhaps why he often depicted feasting in a court of jovial revelers. A 30-foot paneled mural of such a scene by Maxfield Parrish is one of the trademarks of the bar in the famous St. Regis Hotel in New York City. According to tavern lore, Parrish competed with his fellow artists to find a way to depict the king's unfortunate flatulence problem. The embarrassed looking grin on the face of the king paired with the surprised expressions on the knight's faces was Parish's answer to the problem.

A similar panel by the Italian-born artist Guido d'Aquili commissioned in the early twenties by a social club in Trenton, New Jersey also depicts the Old King Cole story. The sheepish grin upon the king's face is similar to the Parrish panels and the inclusion of a stubborn donkey (ass) appears to be a further jab at the king upon his throne. Food takes the center stage in the second panel titled "Ye Bowle" as a great silver tureen is carried into the court referencing the third line, "He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl." The panels are pictured below.

D'Aquili 12
Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he;

D'Aquili 4
He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl,

D'Aquili 2
And he called for his fiddler's three.

D'aquili 3
Every fiddler he had a fiddle, and a very fine fiddle had he;

D'Aquili 5
Oh there's none so rare, as can compare

D'Aquili 6 With King Cole and his fiddlers three.

Megan Fizell

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