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Preliminary working drawing, working drawing and two copies for a chimney-piece in the Tapestry room, June 1787 (4)


All the drawings show the same design though with greater or lesser detail. The cornice/mantel shelf has an egg and dart moulding over three convex mouldings over a cyma reversa with acanthus and fluted ornament; the frieze and pilasters have a series of roundels enclosing two types of 'rose' (though only one type is detailed - twice); the frieze has a tablet in the centre and crossed cornucopia at each end.

The sequence in which the drawings were made seems to be that drawing 8 was made by Soane with notes (to himself?) concerning the decorative details. Drawing 9 was also drawn by Soane on stout cartridge paper, folded three times and (its somewhat worn state suggests) was taken and used in the workshop. The two copies made by John McDonnell, one of two pupils in the office in 1787, would have been made as part of his education but primarily as record copies of designs that might be used again. Above all other elements of a room, chimney-piece designs could be re-used or adapted for other patrons in other houses at other times. Evidence of this is that among the Beckford papers in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MSS. Beckford. c.84.f.111) is a drawing for two chimney-pieces, one of which corresponds to those at the Soane Museum (drawings 8-11 ) and the other (for the South-East Parlour) corresponding to an unidentified chimney-piece designs in the Soane Museum (SM 81/3/36) that is inscribed for 'John Raymond Barker' and 'copy' and dated '27 March 1790'. The possibility is that Soane re-used the rejected design made for Fonthill for the alterations to Fairford House, Gloucestershire, carried out for Barker in 1789-90. Then again, perhaps the original of the copy drawing SM 81/3/36 was accepted for Fonthill's South-East Parlour.

Two chimney-pieces for Fonthill were executed by the mason James Nelson - paid £135.5.4 and sculptor Thomas Banks - paid £93.3.6 - (SM Journal No1)



If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Preliminary working drawing, working drawing and two copies for a chimney-piece in the Tapestry room, June 1787 (4)