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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [10] Design for a chimney-piece with a large, garlanded urn, resting on a plinth and pedestal, above a plain fire surround
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image SM, volume 110/47

Reference number

SM, volume 110/47

Purpose

[10] Design for a chimney-piece with a large, garlanded urn, resting on a plinth and pedestal, above a plain fire surround

Aspect

Elevation

Scale

Not indicated, but about 7/8 in. to 1 foot

Inscribed

In graphite by Gibbons to right of overmantel, Mosaick; in ink by George Dance at bottom right, Gd, and to right in C19 hand, (46[)]

Signed and dated

Undated, but datable 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, with yellow ochre, pink, green-grey and grey washes, and ruled graphite over the wash on the framed panel; base line of design redrawn in black ink; on laid paper, laid down, with pinkish-brown staining on right side of top edge; 7 mm repair strip in wove paper at bottom of sheet (probably 1850); 403 x 222

Hand

Gibbons

Watermark

Shield with a diagonal band of four parallel lines, surmounted by a fleur-de-lys (Strasbourg bend), over AJ

Notes

The design is the only one for a chimney-piece to include the dado of the adjoining walls. Gibbons has also run the cornice across the top of the sheet and drawn the architrave fixings for the yellow wall covering on both sides of the overmantel. No alternatives are shown, and the drawing is as much a part-wall elevation as a design for a chimney-piece. The design is a skilful essay in illusionistic display. The monumental urn appears over-scaled and impractical, but could have been truncated at the back, as there is insufficient depth for a complete urn. No cast shadow is indicated on the background panel and only narrow bands of shadow are applied to the left of the pedestal and fire surround, suggesting a relatively shallow projection overall. The word Mosaick inscribed by Gibbons in graphite in the right-hand wall area probably refers to a mosaic-effect, through the use of trellis- or lattice-work, rather than a tessillated coloured glass finish. This inscription appears to relate to the ruled graphite over-drawing on the grey-pink wash of the overmantel panel. Taken as a whole the chimney would have brought together, in a continuous ensemble, white and grey marble for the fire surround, gilded wood for the urn, limewood for the festoons, a trellis-like finish for the panel, painted timber for the frames, and a background wall covering of yellow damask extending from the floor to the underside of the cornice.

Literature

Thurley (2003), p. 179 and fig. 164; Wren Society, IV, pl. 34, top

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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