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  • image SM, volume 110/62

Reference number

SM, volume 110/62


[4] Design for a room entablature in the Composite order, with paired console brackets framing relief ornaments in the frieze, c. 1689-91




About 3 inches to 1 foot (see Notes)


In ink by George Dance at bottom right (originally bottom left): Gd, and below in C19 hand, (61)

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but probably near beginning of period 1689-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, set out on under-scoring and divider prick marks, with grey washes; on laid paper, laid down, with pinkish-brown staining in 50 mm of sheet on right edge (originally top edge), with some corrosion and cracking in heavily stained areas; 316 x 466




Strasbourg Lily / 4WR (same as 110/32)


This unexecuted design was probably intended for one of the grander rooms in the king's apartments. The height of the entablature is 10 5/8 inches. A scale of about 1 foot to 3 inches, or ¼ foot to an inch, is indicated by two vertical lines of divider prick marks to the right of the architrave, one marked down a vertical graphite line near the right edge of the sheet and the other about 40 mm to the left of this. They are twelfth divisions of the height of the architrave, marked as six divisions in the upper half, and a single division in the lower half. They probably represent a foot, and 1 foot by this scale is 2 15/16 inches, making the entablature just under 3 feet 8 inches high. Entablatures of similar heights were fitted in the Presence Chamber, the King's Bedchamber and the Cartoon Gallery between 1699 and 1701 (measuring between 3 feet 6 inches and 4 feet high). None was built to such an elaborate pattern, but we can be confident that this design was prepared speculatively at a much earlier stage in the construction process. The entablature is of the Composite order, recognisable from the long modillions in the cornice. Only the Composite order would normally have console brackets in the frieze, the classical exemplar being the uppermost order of the Colosseum in Rome. In profile, the entablature is similar to that used for the upper external order at St Paul's Cathedral, designed c.1688 (see Kerry Downes, Sir Christopher Wren: the design of St Paul's Cathedral, 1988, cat no. 117) .The pairing of the console brackets creates panels for the display of armorial and symbolic motifs analogous to the metopes of a Doric frieze. Next to the a familiar grouping of helmet, quiver of arrows, bow, swords and sprays of oak and olive leaves (symbolising the arms of battle at rest, and at peace), Gibbons has drawn, in the right-hand metope, a WM monogram above a rose plant with intertwined roots, suggesting a union of equals. Two winged putti heads bear up the crown against a backdrop of palm fronds. The relief motifs in the frieze compare very closely with those on the group of grey-wash designs for chimney-pieces in section 6/1, especially no. 5 (110/38). This has a similar group of quiver, bow, sprig of oak leaves and crown, flanked by winged cherubs's heads.


Wren Society, IV, pl. 42, bottom; G. Beard, Grinling Gibbons, 1989, Fig. 40



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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