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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [1] Design for sculpted and carved wall decoration in the form of a herm figure supporting an ornate fascia, the whole entwined with a vine and swags of foliage; probably for the internal wall of an orangery or glass house
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image SM, volume 110/63

Reference number

SM, volume 110/63

Purpose

[1] Design for sculpted and carved wall decoration in the form of a herm figure supporting an ornate fascia, the whole entwined with a vine and swags of foliage; probably for the internal wall of an orangery or glass house

Aspect

Elevation of half a wall bay

Scale

Unscaled, but probably about 5/8 inch to 1 foot

Inscribed

In ink, by George Dance at bottom right, Gd, and to right in C19 hand, (62) (see also verso)

Signed and dated

Undated, but probably within range 1690-94

Medium and dimensions

Brush and grey wash over graphite, with some shading in light brown wash, and some reinforcement in pen and brown ink;on laid paper, laid down; pinkish-brown staining in bottom 150 mm of sheet, with some corrosion, cracking of paper at bottom centre, including an old group of tears, extending 90 mm from bottom, and with early repair on back; 350 x 283

Hand

Caius Gabriel Cibber

Verso

In pen and ink, at top centre, in an early hand, (4)

Watermark

Strasbourg Lily / 4WR; the crown with three-lobed intermediate floret.

Notes

Cibber's responsibility for this design can be established from comparisons with a drawing in the St Paul's Collection in the Guildhall Library for one of the keystone of the main crossing arches of the dome carved by Cibber in 1698, which is in the same graphite, wash and pen technique (Downes, 1988, cat. 199), and with securely attributed drawing by Cibber for the statues of Pallas and Apollo for Chatsworth House at the Victoria and Albert Museum (Physick, Designs for English Sculpture, 1680-1860, 1969, cat. 28), which has the same distinctive shading method, in thin parallel lines, partly in pen and partly in brushed wash. Cibber used this parallel-line shading method to enhance effects of relief; the parallel lines follow the contours of the body and are varied in thickness to create strong modelling effects (see also his sketch for a statue of Neptune, perhaps for Chatsworth, Physick 1969, fig. 11). On this drawing, light brown wash is applied in parallel lines on the herm figure, the fascia cornice and the vase motif in the lower centre of the design. As well as enhancing the relief qualities of the figures, it may also denote the use of wood for these parts of the design. This material was probably wood, for the subject of the design is a pergola structure applied to a wall.The drawing includes a pot of flowers on the floor below the herm figure, another above its head in the frieze of the fascia, and a third, containing a tall flower, which appears to be fixed a third of the way up the wall. These suggest that the design is a proposal for the internal wall of an orangery where plants would be displayed and vines grown. The design could be for one of the glasshouses built in what was known as the Glass Case Garden (present day Pond Garden) in 1690-94 for the display of Queen Mary's collection of exotic plants, or possibly for the orangery that was built near the west end of the king's apartments in the same period (see Thurley, 2003, 230-32). A rough scale for the design, giving the dimensions of the wall elevation, can be deduced from the height of the dado. This would normally be about 3 feet 3 inches (although in the 1699 designs for the King's Bedchamber and Writing Closet it was as low as 2 feet 6 inches; see 6/6, nos. 1-3; 110/57, 55, 54). It measures just under 2 inches high on the drawing. If the dado were 3 feet 3 inches high this would indicate a scale of about 5/8 inches to 1 foot, giving a height for the wall elevation of about 14 feet 6 inches and a bay width of about 11 feet. If it were only 2 feet 6 inches high, the wall height would be about 11 feet 3 inches and the bay width about 8 feet. The height of the internal rear wall of one of the glasshouses in the Pond Garden, recorded in a survey drawing by Thomas Fort in c.1718 is 12 ½ feet; with a window bay 8 feet wide (see Thurley, 2003, fig. 218). This is within the range of possible heights for the rear wall of a glasshouse or an orangery.

Literature

Wren Society, IV, dedication page

Level

Drawing

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