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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [2] Design the end walls of the closet, with painted flower decoration on the wall panels, birds and flowers in the frieze, and a vase of flowers and a drapery canopy over the door
top left corner
top right corner
bottom left corner
bottom right corner
image SM, volume 110/64

Reference number

SM, volume 110/64

Purpose

[2] Design the end walls of the closet, with painted flower decoration on the wall panels, birds and flowers in the frieze, and a vase of flowers and a drapery canopy over the door

Aspect

Two elevations, including sections of wall mouldings

Scale

5 feet to 3 inches (1 foot to 3/5 inch) (see 110/66)

Inscribed

In ink by George Dance, bottom left (bottom right in volume), Gd, and at bottom left of the right and left elevations in a C19 hand, 63, 64

Signed and dated

Undated, but probably c.1693-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over fine graphite under-drawing with grey, pinkish-brown and yellow washes for all but the panels; these are in blue, red, purple, green and white gouache on a brown gouache background; on laid paper, laid down; pinkish-brown in left 50 mm of sheet (originally at top), with some corrosion and cracking of paper; 305 x 468

Hand

Gibbons

Watermark

Countermark: DS

Notes

The drawing presents two elevations: on the left, the window wall on the east side towards the park; on the right the west elevation, with its narrow door (3 feet wide) to the king's closet. The dado beneath the window is designed as a seat, and was executed in this fashion, like the dado's in the King's Little Bedchamber (see Thurley, 2003, fig. 193). The setting back of the seat back, immediately below the window opening, is indicated by a broader band of shading. There is no sign of any provision for a door in this panel to provide access to the balcony and the bridge link to the Privy Garden that Hawksmoor designed in September 1694 (5/5, nos 1-3; 110/19-21). This would suggest that the drawing pre-dates September 1694. However, it cannot date before the plan of this part of the building was finalised at this level, probably in 1690, when construction began on the foundations. The coved cornice has the same profile as that in 1, above (110/66), but has no relief ornament. Gibbons has also varied the relief pattern on the frieze, using these end elevations as a means of offering a slightly simplified alternative for the wall elevations of the closet as a whole. The relief carving above the door would have to be entirely in wood, with drapery as a trompe-l'oeil effect. The motif of birds sporting amongst swags of fruit and flowers suspended from ribbons has its origins in the overmantel reliefs on some of Gibbons's early chimney-piece designs, and in the design for a Corinthian entablature (6/1, nos 1, 3; 110/32, 36; 6/2, no. 2; 110/59). In this scheme, however, the elements of relief are more clearly expressed and the design is simpler, with just two main elements: the ribbons holding swags, and the birds. Unlike 110/66, Gibbons shows the relief carving of the frieze in side view. Although several other drawings show architectural features in side view, none presents a view of relief carving against a wall surface, as here.

Literature

Wren Society, pl. 45

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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