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  • image SM, volume 110/37

Reference number

SM, volume 110/37


[4] Design for a chimney-piece with a gilt sub-overmantel panel containing a WM monogram on a pair of wings, with a ribbon, trumpets and fronds


Elevation, incomplete on right side of overmantel


About ¾ inch to 1 foot


In ink by Dance at bottom right, Gd, and to right in a C19 hand, (37)

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but probably near beginning of period c. 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under drawing with grey washes and some additions in graphite; on laid paper, with pinkish-brown staining in top 50mm of sheet, slightly eroded; 460 x 290




Coumtermark: PVL (for Piet van der Ley)


Like 5 below (110/38) this drawing has yellow wash in addition to the predominant grey washes. The yellow wash probably indicates gilded surfaces, for it is used for the two carved mouldings of the fire surround cornice and for the moulded frame of the overmantel panel. The framed panel within the fire surround has a yellow background, suggesting gilded wood, and on this is a large symmetrical composition of a two-sided eagle's wing, backed by three trumpets and with a ribbon framing a WM monogram. The composition is intended as a relief carving as some cast shadows are indicated. The theme is of victory, but it is not carried up into the overmantel, where a blank frame is surrounded by fruit, flowers, drapery and birds, and the decorative elements are smaller in scale.Gibbons has drawn a trial of the WM insignia in brush and yellow wash on the drapery swag beneath the overmantel panel. This suggests and unfamiliarity with the motif, and may be another indicator of an early date for this group of drawings.The decorative relief elements of the overmantel are rendered very flat in pen and wash, like all the relief carving in this group of five. There is spatial ambiguity in the relief composition. On the left side a drop of flowers is drawn against the side of the overmantel, without any overlap, but at the bottom one of the swags is made to lie across the mantel shelf and overhang the corner. Throughout it is not clear how deep the carving will be, or which features will stand forward of others. This is largely the result of an absence of clearly drawn cast shadow.The base of the drawing is the bottom of the sheet, but the drawing was probably trimmed back to this line, for on 110/38 the bottom of the sheet has been extended by the later addition of a narrow strip, presumably to repair damage to the original paper below the baseline.


Wren Society, vol. IV, pl. 32, top



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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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