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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [3] Design for a chimney-piece with herm figures in the fire surround, perched birds and a tympanum with an infant Hercules on the mantel piece, and an overmantel bordered by swags of fruit and flowers suspended from ribbons
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image SM, volume 110/30

Reference number

SM, volume 110/30

Purpose

[3] Design for a chimney-piece with herm figures in the fire surround, perched birds and a tympanum with an infant Hercules on the mantel piece, and an overmantel bordered by swags of fruit and flowers suspended from ribbons

Aspect

elevation, partly unfinished on right

Scale

About 7/8 in. to 1 foot

Inscribed

In ink by George Dance at bottom right, Gd, and to right by C19 hand, (30[ ]

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing with pink, greenish-yellow and grey washes and some additions in graphite; on laid paper, with pinkish-brown staining in top 40 mm of sheet; 420 x 259

Hand

Gibbons

Watermark

Countermark: CDG

Notes

The pairs of herm figures flanking the fire opening and the curved pediment in the centre of the mantel shelf suggest the influence of a design by Pierre Collot, published in 1633 (Esterly, 1998, fig. 81). If this is the source, Gibbons has transformed it by classicising the centre pediment and setting above a relief of sea gods. The sketch of this relief is probably intended to represent Neptune and Galatea, as it has affiinities with the composition of his 1701 marble relief of this mythical encounter, now at Dalkeith House, Lothian, Scotland (Esterly, 1998, fig. 211). Within the pediment is the infant Hercules strangling a serpent, and above a vase of flowers in ink and yellow wash (for gilded wood).The cresting at the top of the overmantel consists of horns, oak and bay leaves, and palm fronds, with a rope of small flowers connecting to a knot of ribbons suspending the side drop. The drop is divided into three groupings, irregularly spaced, suspended by ribbons, in a gently tapering overall form. A pair of exotic birds is perched on the mantel shelf. The sketching in graphite proposes caryatid figures for right side of the fire surround, in more casual poses than the term figures on left.

Literature

Esterly, 1998, pp. 105-06 and fig. 80; Wren Society, IV, pl. 28, 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.

Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).