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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [5] Design for a chimney-piece with a large vase of flowers in the arched overmantel panel, vases on the mantel shelf, and a pair of winged cherub heads in the fire surround
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image SM, volume 110/40

Reference number

SM, volume 110/40

Purpose

[5] Design for a chimney-piece with a large vase of flowers in the arched overmantel panel, vases on the mantel shelf, and a pair of winged cherub heads in the fire surround

Aspect

Elevation, partly unfinished on right

Scale

Not indicated, but about 7/8 inch to 1 foot

Inscribed

In ink by George Dance in bottom right, Gd, and by C19 hand to right, (39*)

Signed and dated

Undated, but datable 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and russet-brown ink over graphite under drawing, with pink, yellow, green-grey and grey washes, and additions in graphite; and with black ink re-drawing of outlines at base of design; on laid paper, heavily trimmed, laid down, with 8 mm repair in wove paper at bottom of sheet, probably 1850; 401 x 220, including 7mm repair strip at bottom of sheet

Hand

Gibbons

Watermark

Countermark: 'AJ' in large letters, formed in petal-like chains (Francois Jardel)

Notes

The design presents two slightly varied alternatives, left and right. The right side is incomplete from the pencilled urn downwards and several aspects are unresolved. The overmantel wall and fire surround on the left side are slightly wider than on the right. The left-hand scheme gives background wall behind the vase on the mantel shelf, and results in a different arrangement for the supporting motifs below the shelf. Gibbons has drawn alternatives, left and right, for the widths of the projecting parts of the mantel shelf beneath the urns. The finished left side of the design has the pedestal stepping forward once from the centre to a narrow supporting pedestal, which is supported by two winged cherubs' heads at the top of the pilaster of the fire surround. This pedestal has an acanthus flower motif on its dado panel and enrichments on its basement and cornice mouldings. On the right side he drew a single wide pedestal aligned with the right side of the fire opening and the vertical of the chimney breast. Its end mouldings would have projected beyond that wall of the chimney-breast and perhaps for this reason are not drawn in. This solution would have been less satisfactory as the vase would not have been centred on the pedestal. However, the left side is not fully resolved as the pedestal is set slightly to the right of the pilaster and the vase is to the right again.
As in almost all the other designs from this group, Gibbons has drawn a full cornice at the top of the chimney-piece bay and proportioned it to suit the design rather than any fixed measure. In this case it is relatively large, and the chimney-piece bay is quite low (perhaps no more than 12 feet).

Literature

D. Esterly, Gibbons, 1998, p. 82 and fig. 59; Wren Society, IV, pl. 36, bottom

Level

Drawing

Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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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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