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Reference number

SM 36/3/7


[1] Preliminary design for a display of pistols and bayonets over the Guard Room chimney-piece, prepared for John Harris of Eton


Plan, with additional detail in quarter plans of the oval display and the rectangular outer frame


1 foot to 5/8 in.


By Gibbons (?) in graphite, to right of display, Turn the Pistols / reverse to this Drawing; and above design, on left, upside down, 92 Pistols / 76 Bayonets, and further up, also upside down, 23 / 19; and within the border of the central over, in graphite, HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE; and with numbered scale in brown ink at bottom right; and on verso, in later C18 hand, in graphite, sketch of some of the / armes in the Round base / over the Guard room Chimney

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable c.1699-1700

Medium and dimensions

Pen and grey ink over graphite under drawing, with light grey wash and some additions in graphite Laid paper 372 x 250


Grinling Gibbons (?)




John Harris of Eton was William III's Gunsmith and Decorator Extraordinary. He was given the post of Furbisher of Small Arms at Hampton Court in November 1999 (Thurley 2003, p. 198). He was responsible for maintaining the display of arms in the guard room, but there is no evidence that he was a draughtsman capable of setting out a design for the displays on paper. Grinling Gibbons was responsible for carving the oval and circular 'targets' in the middle of Harris's displays. This drawing appears to be in his hand. The scale bar is similar in convention to that on Gibbons's wall elevation for Queen Mary's Closet (6/7, no. 1; 110/66); the numbers are similar, with long tails on the '9's and '6's; and the handwriting of the two inscriptions resembles that in the word Mosaick on Gibbons's drawing for a chimney-piece: 6/5, no. 10; 110/47.
The techniques of the drawing are not obviously those of Gibbons (for example, the hatched pen shading). However, in the absence of another draughtsman for the designer, he is the most likely contender.
The inscription on the back of the sheet identifies the location for the design but misinterprets the drawing as a sketch on an existing arrangement rather than a proposal drawing. The earliest known interior view of the overmantel display in the Guard Room is Stephanoff's in Pyne's Royal Residences (Thurley 2003, fig. 189). This presents a different arrangement to the design in this drawing but one that could have been derived from this initial scheme. The panel itself has the same corner groupings, but the disposition of pistols and bayonets in the oval is reversed, with the bayonets on the outset in the pattern of a Garter Star.
The width of the panel is 8 ½ feet, which appears to be correct for the overall width of the chimney breast in the Guard Room.



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