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  • image SM, volume 110/56

Reference number

SM, volume 110/56


[4] Incomplete sketch design for a doorcase with a foliated pilaster frame and capital, continued as a console and shell motif in the frieze, and with swags of fruit and flowers in a sub-frieze


Half elevation, incomplete at bottom and on right


1 foot to just under 1 inch (see 110/55)


In pen and brown ink below centre of door, 1 (by Gibbons?); in ink by George Dance at bottom right, Gd, and to right in C19 hand, (55) (altered from 56)

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but probably c.1693-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, some of which is un-inked, and with warm grey wash; laid paper, laid down; 420 x 288




Countermark: CDG


Identical in drawing technique to 110/54, 55 and 57, the design shares with the other three in this section the device of an angled console at the end of the frieze. On this elevation and on 110/54 the console curls over the top of the architrave to shelf-like projection below the frieze and then rises up in a backward-curling scroll to meet the underside of the cornice. In both cases the projecting architrave is part of an inner frame which, judging by its profile in elevation, is set forward of the frieze and cornice by about 6 inches. It would have provided a deep door frame for two sets of double-leaf folding doors opening into the depth of the wall, rather than single leaf doors opening into the room itself. However, no projecting architraves of this kind were used in the king's apartments at Hampton Court, and the doors that survive are single leaf. (see Thurley, 2003, fig. 193).The design is unfinished and well illustrates Gibbons's preparatory technique. First, he drew in graphite a central vertical line and a horizontal base line, then the architectural frame of the doorcase and the lines of its mouldings, concentrating on one side of the vertical axis and adding loose freehand lines for the carved ornament, including a suggestion for the scrolled corners of the pilaster capital. Next he drew in ink all the freehand elements of the upper half of the design on the left side of the axis, including the moulding profiles. After this he applied the wash, using a darker application for the carved relief. However, he did not reach his usual final stage of adding ruled ink lines over the graphite and wash to mark out all the details of the elevation (as seen almost complete on 110/57).Given its intimate association with the other three designs for doorways, we can assume that this drawing is to the same scale. Measured from the scale on 110/55, the door opening is 5 feet wide. This is the width of the door openings in the sequence of state rooms from the Guard Room to the Drawing Room, next to the Bedchamber. The design exhibits an unusual form of capital, drawn over the pencilled lines of a more conventional Corinthian-style capital. Large leaves of an acanthus form radiate from behind a winged cherub's head at the base of the capital, the tallest leaf rising up to support the base of the console. The console is in an enlongated 'S' profile, its lower part, over the architrave, in strapwork, its upper part, on the frieze, as an inward curling volute containing a shell. It is evident that Gibbons designed his capital as a device to support the console. He needed a deeply projecting central leaf, which the conventional Corinthian capital does not offer, and so re-styled the capital as a spray of leaves. There is a close analogy between this capital and the long leaf fronds that rise from pilaster strips to support winged cherubs on the backs of the stalls in the choir of St Paul's Cathedral (1696-97). At St Paul's the cherubs serve as brackets to support the gallery fronts and emerge from foliage sprays, very like the cherub on this capital of this drawing. This stylistic similarity is further evidence that the group of four door designs is datable c.1693-4, roughly contemporary with Gibbons's design-work on the fittings of the St Paul's choir in the same period.


Wren Society, IV, pl. 41, bottom left



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