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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [3] Alternative designs for two chimney-pieces, left and right, with mid-height panels, and with overmantels as square or chamfer-cornered frames, flanked on the right by a drop of acanthus and flowers and on the left by a sketched armorial display
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top right corner
bottom left corner
bottom right corner
image SM, volume 110/51

Reference number

SM, volume 110/51

Purpose

[3] Alternative designs for two chimney-pieces, left and right, with mid-height panels, and with overmantels as square or chamfer-cornered frames, flanked on the right by a drop of acanthus and flowers and on the left by a sketched armorial display

Aspect

Elevation with alternatives, left and right

Scale

Drawn scale: 1 foot to 6/7 in (7 feet to 6 inches); or 1 foot to 22 mm

Inscribed

In ink by George Dance at bottom right, Gd, and above by a C19 hand, (50)

Signed and dated

Undated, but datable 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing with grey-green wash and additions in graphite, including the scale bar, added to the baseline of the design by another hand; on smooth white laid paper, with early repair strip, 6-12 mm deep, at top of sheet; 384 x 237

Hand

Gibbons, and unidentified hand for scale

Watermark

Countermark: CDG

Notes

The design presents one of the two types Gibbons employed in these sketch designs, in this case the version with a mid-height mantelshelf and a rectangular panel above the fire surround. As with the others in this group, Gibbons presents two clear alternatives for the two zones above the fire surround. The left side presents the fire surround as a single plane, on which is set a simple rectangular framed panel aligned with the architrave of the hearth opening; above is a square picture frame with a sketch in graphite for an armorial composition hanging from a ribbon, comprising crossed arms, a shield and a helment. At the top, Gibbons intended a cartouche, flanked by winged putti heads. The right side has the fire surround and mantel cornice stepping forward as a shallow pedestal above the hearth opening; above is a chamfer-cornered picture frame bordered by an acanthus whorl, from which hangs a drop fruit and leaf ornament, very loosely drawn. The scale bar beneath the baseline of the design was probably added retrospectively to size up the design for a particular wall elevation, perhaps in 1699 when works on refitting the interiors of the state apartments recommenced. It is not consistent with Gibbons's scale bar on his wall elevation for Queen's Mary's Closet, 110/66. This has a single graphite line with pen strokes for the feet divisions and a '3' with a curved rather than a straight stroke at the top. The fire surround opening scales at just over 5 feet (111.5 mm), and the overall height from the floor to the underside of the cornice or entablature (marked by a horizontal pen near the top of the sheet) is 16 feet 5 inches (360 mm). This is about 4 feet less than the comparable height in one of the state rooms of the king's apartments (about 20 feet 7 inches), but 2 feet 4½ inches more than the height in Gibbons's elevation of the chimney-piece wall of Queen Mary's Closet (110/66; 14 feet ½ inch). The intended room for the chimney-piece would have been at first-floor level, but would probably not have been one of the principal state rooms.
The position of the scale bar in relation to the bottom and side edges of the sheet aids our understanding of how the drawings in the Hampton Court volume were subsequently trimmed, mounted, trimmed again and remounted over a period of several decades or more, up to the repair and rebinding of the volume in 1850. The scale is close to the bottom of the sheet, and this has caused the draughtsman to squeeze up his numbers to fit (e.g. the '3' and '9'). This suggests that the bottom of the sheet at present is the same as when Gibbons drew the design. However, on the left and right sides of the sheet some paper has been lost, for the lines of the scale bar have been cut off before the 1 and after the 10. The trimming on the right side must have happened before Dance wrote his initials, as they are in a similar position, in relation to the edge, as those on almost all the other drawings where they appear in the bottom right-hand corner. The later number (50) added above the Gd, rather than to the right is further confirmation that Dance wrote his initials close to what was then the edge of the sheet. On this evidence we can date the earliest trimming of the sheets before Dance's ownership of the drawings (unless he himself was responsible for the trimming, and subsequently added his collector's mark).

Literature

Wren Society, IV, pl. 29, 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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