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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [5] Design for a chimney-piece with a deep mantel frieze depicting captives presented to a king on a canopied dais, and a overmantel with a martial composition surmounted by a winged putto, and resting on a concave-sided pedestal stacked with spolia, all within a gilt canopy of gathered drapery
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image SM, volume 110/38

Reference number

SM, volume 110/38

Purpose

[5] Design for a chimney-piece with a deep mantel frieze depicting captives presented to a king on a canopied dais, and a overmantel with a martial composition surmounted by a winged putto, and resting on a concave-sided pedestal stacked with spolia, all within a gilt canopy of gathered drapery

Aspect

Elevation, unfinished on right side of overmantel

Scale

About 1 inch to 1 foot

Inscribed

In ink by Dance at bottom right, Gd, and by C19 hand, to right, (38)

Signed and dated

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

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink with grey, yellow and yellow ochre washes over graphite under drawing, with some additions in graphite; on laid paper, laid down; repaired at bottom of sheet, probably in early C19, by addition of 8 mm strip of wove paper; 458 x 267

Hand

Gibbons

Watermark

Strasbourg Lily / 4WR (smaller version of that on 110/32)

Notes

The drawn-back curtain was probably meant to be carved rather than real, as it is overlapped at the top by a motif of trumpets and laurel leaf crowns. It is also made to meet the edge of the inner field of the overmantel in a straight line, although it projects beyond this at the bottom, to lie across the mantel shelf. Gibbons's shading suggests that the curtain would be nearly flat at the top, but more deeply carved near the middle of the overmantel. The curtain was certainly meant to be in limewood, with brocade texture as surface detail.
The chimney-piece itself has stronger relief than the other four in this early group of designs. It steps forward at the outer edge of the architrave frame of the fireplace opening, and this line marks the edge of the inner field of the overmantel. It steps forward again for the relief panel. This deeper central section supports the concave-sided pedestal on the mantel shelf. The theme of the chimney-piece is martial triumph. On the fire surround panel is a scene of captives being driven forward to pay homage to a king seated on a stepped dais, covered by a tent-like canopy. The canopy motif is taken up in the overmantel in the curtain frame to the central martial trophy grouping of an oval shield with a garter star, surrounded by symbols of battle and triumph, and below this a crowned pedestal stacked with vases and and other booty.Drawing 110/48 (6/3 no. 1) is either a preparatory sketch for this design, or has been derived from it.

Literature

D. Esterly, Grinling Gibbons, 1998, p. 135; Wren Society, vol. IV, pl. 31, bottom; D. Esterly, Grinling Gibbons, 1998, fig. 109

Level

Drawing

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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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