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  • image SM, volume 110/50

Reference number

SM, volume 110/50


[12] Design for a chimney-piece with alternatives, the left side of the fire surround with a term figure and a vase, and the right side with a plain pilaster and bust


Elevation, with alternatives, left and right, unfinished on right


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


In ink by George Dance at bottom right, Gd, and to right in C19 hand, (49[)]

Signed and dated

  • Undated but probably near the end of the period 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and russet brown ink over graphite under-drawing, with light green, yellow ochre, green-grey and grey washes; on laid paper, laid down, with pinkish-brown blotching and staining at top of sheet and early diagonal repair in laid paper, 40 x 45 mm, in top right-hand corner; 420 x 251




Countermark: JJ


The design offers a richly carved marble fire surround with alternatives left and right. On the left, the hearth surround projects at least as far as the draped female term figure whose elbow rests on its top surface, behind a cornucopia. This lies on the concave side of a central pedestal that supports a central crown. To the right the surround is bordered by a pilaster that is set forward of the architrave of the hearth. While the figurative scheme of the left presupposes full-depth treatment of the cornucopia, pedestal and crown, the much flatter treatment on the right suggests that the same sculptural group would be carved in low relief. However, Gibbons does not appear to have maintained the same shallow projections in the mantel shelf area, for his bust on the right appears similar in depth to his vase on the left. Ruled border lines in graphite mark narrow bands for architrave frames either side of the chimney breast to fix the damask covering of the overmantel wall (see 10, below;110/47). The martial trophy above the portrait frame brings together several victory motifs found on the Hampton Court album chimney-piece designs: a helmet with a St George and the dragon relief, surmounted by a winged serpent, and a radiating backdrop of laurel crowns, standards, fronds, bow and arrows, and a pair of trumpets, all set on an eagle's wing, from which hangs a ribbon, tied across from the side of the overmantel, from which is suspended a portrait roundel set in sprays of flowers.

There is a gartered crest in a martial display above the overmantel panel. Although Gibbons has not drawn in the room cornice above the overmantel, he has marked its depth in parallel lines across the top of the sheet.


Wren Society, IV, pl. 29, bottom



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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