Explore Collections Explore The Collections
You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [4] Finished design for the south wall elevation of the closet, with japanned-style painted panels
top left corner
top right corner
bottom left corner
bottom right corner
image SM, volume 110/67

Reference number

SM, volume 110/67

Purpose

[4] Finished design for the south wall elevation of the closet, with japanned-style painted panels

Aspect

Elevation, with profiles of mouldings shown in section

Scale

5 feet to 3 inches (approx., as 10 feet is 5 9/10 inches) (same as 110/66)

Inscribed

In ink by George Dance at bottom left (bottom right in volume), Gd, and below in C19 hand, 67.

Signed and dated

Undated, but probably c.1693-94

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink over graphite under-drawing, with grey, blue-grey and green washes, and with brown (oxidised to brown from another colour, e.g. red?), white, blue and green gouache for the wall panels; on laid paper, laid down, with pinkish-brown staining and blotching in left-hand 80 mm (originally top); vertical tear near top of left side, 80 mm long, with early repair on back; 312 x 448

Hand

Hawksmoor, who may also have executed the gouache panels

Watermark

Strasbourg Lily / 4WR (trefoils for intermediate florets of crown)

Notes

The entire drawing can be attributed to Hawksmoor, including, probably, the painted decorative panel. The most obvious difference between the technique on this elevation and on the others for the closet that are undoubtedly by Gibbons is in the pen-and-wash drawing of the relief panels. The handling of the birds and the floral and ribbon motifs is quite unlike Gibbons: the outlines are sketchily drawn in short pen strokes over quite heavy graphite under drawing, and are reinforced by coloured wash or gouache, applied as shading and outline rather than as tonal colouration. Hawksmoor's decorative detail is always sketchily drawn, with light touches of the pen; outlines are formed in short strokes which suggest rather than define the edges of ornamental details; and weight is given to the outlines by shading and under-drawing (e.g his elevation for the St Paul's choir organ of c.1694; Downes, 1988, cat. 182). The closest comparisons are with the decorative details of Hawksmoor's two elevations for the Orangery Grotto, c.1690-94 (110/16-17). These have similar loose pen lines over heavy graphite under-drawing and almost identical shading in banded washed lines. The under-drawing of the design is also typical of Hawksmoor. He used graphite extensively for the preparatory designs for Hampton Court and applied the medium more heavily than Gibbons in pen-and-wash elevations, like those for the 'Bridge and Portall by the Queen's Closett' (6/5, no. 1; 110/19). Hawksmoor's thick graphite under-drawing is visible beneath the wash and gouache in the uninked areas of foliage ornament at the left end of the cornice, and in the continuation of the graphite lines of the borders of the decorative panels across the wall surface. Gibbons's technique is lighter and more precise. He often formed the angles of his door architraves with the aid of light diagonal pencil lines (e.g. 6/6, no. 1; 110/57; and 1 and 3 above' 110/66, 65), but this techinique is not found here.A further indication of Hawksmoor's hand is in the ink colour. It is grey-brown in colour, lacking the reddish tinge of the ink on the other three drawings for the closet. Hawskmoor's inks lack this reddish tone, and in this case the grey-brown matches exactly the ink on the drawings for the Orangery Grotto. The shading of the relief ornaments is in blue-grey and green colours. The green is the same as that used for the borders of the panels and for some areas on the panels themselves. Moreover, a grey gouache seems to have been applied over the grey wash to reinforce the shading of the cove of the ceiling and the left side of the elevation. It is not impossible that Hawksmoor could himself have painted these sketchy versions of 'japanned ' lacquered panels. They are crude and amateurish in their details but have decorative flourishes in the lines of the foliage that are akin to the curvilinear lines of Hawksmoor's pen in the handling of scroll-like motifs in decorative ironwork or woodwork (e.g. 110/19).

Literature

Wren Society, IV, pl. 46, top

Level

Drawing

Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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).