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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [1] Presentation design for the north wall of the closet, with a chimney-piece on the left with cherubs, billing doves and a drapery canopy in the overmantel, and a door on the right with a vase of flowers in the over-panel; the walls with painted flower decoration; the frieze with birds, wreaths, fronds and swags
top left corner
top right corner
bottom left corner
bottom right corner
image SM, volume 110/66

Reference number

SM, volume 110/66

Purpose

[1] Presentation design for the north wall of the closet, with a chimney-piece on the left with cherubs, billing doves and a drapery canopy in the overmantel, and a door on the right with a vase of flowers in the over-panel; the walls with painted flower decoration; the frieze with birds, wreaths, fronds and swags

Aspect

Elevation, with wall profiles shown in section

Scale

Drawn scale of 5 feet to 3 inches (approx., as 10 feet is 5 9/10 inches)

Inscribed

In ink by George Dance at bottom left (bottom right in volume), Gd, and to right in C19 hand, (66)

Signed and dated

Undated, but probably c.1693-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing with grey, light brown and yellow washes, the panels in blue, red, purple, green and white gouache on a brown gouache background; on laid paper, laid down; with pinkish-brown staining across 70 mm from right edge (top in volume); 452 x 341

Hand

Gibbons; the painted panels probably by James Bogdani

Watermark

Strasbourg Lily (faint)

Notes

The scale bar on the left side of the sheet is in Gibbons's hand and is in identical mid-brown ink to the freehand and ruled lines of the drawing itself. It appears to have been positioned to facilitate the vertical measurements of the room, as its invisible starting point is the floor of the closet. The room is 19 feet high from floor to ceiling. This is the height of all the principal rooms in the king's and queen's apartments. The top of the cornice is 17 feet above the floor.In the state rooms the cornice and dado heights were not at common points, but were but varied to suite the requirements of the interior decoration scheme. In this case Gibbons has ordered the wall elevation so that the cornice of mantel shelf and door align on the rail division between the upper and lower panels. As the bottom moulding of the cornice and top moulding of the dado rail have the same large torus moulding there is a neat vertical symmetry in the central zone of the wall elevation. The gouache panels may be in the hand of James Bogdani, the 'James Bogedain' who was paid £60 in March 1705 'for work by him done in the Queen's Looking Glasse Closett in the Thames Gallery in 1694' (Audit Office, Declared Accounts, Works, Roll 297, Bundle 2482; see Wren Society, IV, p. 28)
The imagery of the interior design is of loving union, expressed through the pair of cherubs on the mantel shelf, the pair of doves in a ring of forget-me-nots at the top of the canopy frame, and the pairs of birds and joined rings of flowers in the frieze. The bow, quiver and arrow in the centre of the overmantel represent both the laying down of the arms of battle and cupid's arrow of love. The yellow wash on the overmantel appears to denote a wood colour, while the unwashed areas of relief carving and the cherubs were probably meant to be in limewood. The fire surround and hood-like pedestal with its relief of Venus and Adonis were probably to be in marble.Although it has been suggested that Nicholas Hawksmoor may have drawn the architectural frame (Thurley, Hampton Court, 2003, p. 179), there is in fact no distinction between the pen drawing of the ruled and freehand lines of the mouldings and the freehand lines of the relief ornament (see, however, 3, below; 110/67). The closet itself was fitted out in 1699-1700 with carved detail identical to that in the King's Little Bedchamber and Writing Closet. In all respects the executed scheme is simpler and lighter, a vast reduction in scale and character on the proposal illustrated by these three drawings. The entablature was changed to a coved cornice, the door has just one moulding above its architrave, and there are no sculptural enrichments beyond the limewood cresting and drops of the overmantel surround. One telling alteration in the executed scheme is to the height of the dado. On the three wall elevations the height of the dado is 3 feet 6 inches, but in the closet itself the dado is over a foot lower, at 2 feet 5 inches. The three door elevations associated with the 1693-94 phase have dados at this lower height of 2 feet 6 inches (above, 6/6, nos. 1-3; 110/57, 55 and 54). This is the approximate height in the fabric of the dado rails in the King's Bedchamber, Little Bedchamber and Writing Closet.

Literature

Esterly, 1998, p. 168, fig. 146; Thurley, Hampton Court, 2003, p. 179, fig. 166; Wren Society, IV, pl. 44

Level

Drawing

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