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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [2] Design for a chimney-piece, with a bust of Charles I over the fire surround, and a tall overmantel portrait frame with a cresting of a cross of St George in a garter, with putti, palm fronds, and a long drop of flowers
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image SM, volume 110/25

Reference number

SM, volume 110/25

Purpose

[2] Design for a chimney-piece, with a bust of Charles I over the fire surround, and a tall overmantel portrait frame with a cresting of a cross of St George in a garter, with putti, palm fronds, and a long drop of flowers

Aspect

Elevation, partly unfinished on right

Scale

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

Inscribed

In ink and pencil by a C19 hand, top right, 25

Signed and dated

Undated, but within range 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, with pink, yellow ochre, yellow-green and grey washes, and with additions in graphite, including later re-drawing of baseline of design; on laid paper, with pinkish-brown staining in top 35 mm of sheet and 8 mm repair strip in wove paper at bottom (probably 1850); 422 x 200

Hand

Gibbons

Watermark

Shield with four lines in diagonal band (not all parallel), surmounted by fleur-de-lys (Strasbourg bend), over AJ

Notes

The cast shadows to the left of the vase, bust and fire surround indicate that the surround itself would have stood well forward of the chimney breast to provide sufficient depth for the display of the bust of Charles I.The design may record the bust that Bernini carved of Charles I from a triple portait by Van Dyck in 1636-37.The bust, which was delivered in April 1637 and universally admired was destroyed in the fire at Whitehall Palace in January 1698.Gibbons’s sketch of the bust is consistent with several the details of Van Dyck’s triple portrait. This depicts Charles with a similar laced collar and buttoned vest, and with an oval garter medallion suspended from a garter ribbon. However, there exists at Arundel House another bust of Charles I based on Van Dyck’s triple portrait carved by the French sculptor Francois Dieussart in 1636, and Gibbons’s sketch may equally be a version of this example. The special prominence of the bust in the design is underscored by the octagonal framed backing panel (perhaps for a mirror).
The sketched portrait of Charles I in the large oval frame in the overmantel precedes the present drawing (the graphite is concealed by the yellow-green wash), and may have been abandoned when Gibbons decided to design the chimney-piece around an existing carved bust.

Literature

Wren Society, IV, pl. 27, bottom

Level

Drawing

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