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Designs for chimney-pieces, room cornices and entablatures, door cases and internal wall elevations, c.1689-1694, mostly by Grinling Gibbons


Designs for chimney-pieces, room cornices and entablatures, door cases and internal wall elevations, c.1689-1694, mostly by Grinling Gibbons

Signed and dated

  • 1689
    Main Year
  • 1690-94
    Other Years



The drawings for internal features in this section of the catalogue fall into two broad groups: designs for chimney-pieces, room cornices and entablatures in the hand of Grinling Gibbons which cannot be associated with particular rooms at Hampton Court, and probably date to the first two to four years of the first phase of works at Hampton Court Palace in 1689-94 (sections 1-5), and designs for chimney-pieces, doors and wall elevations which can be linked with designs for the interiors of the king's and queen's apartments towards the end of this period, but which were not executed owing to the cessation of works after death of Queen Mary on 28 December 1694 (sections 6, 7). It is possible that some of Gibbons's designs in sections 1-5 were prepared for Kensington Palace, where reconstruction and internal refitting was being carried out at the same time (HKW, 5, pp. 187-90). It is worth noting, however, that none of the designs for chimney-pieces in the Hampton Court Album can be linked with surviving examples, either at Hampton Court or at Kensington Palace, and that a payment to Gibbons for internal carved work at Hampton Court in the period 1694-96 does not mention chimney-pieces (see below).

The designs for chimney-pieces are grouped here on the basis of similarities in design, drawing technique and paper types. One distinct group consists of five designs for chimney-pieces in a predominantly grey-wash technique, presented without alternatives left and right, and without cornices above the overmantels (section 1). These may be amongst the earliest of Gibbons's designs in the Hampton Court Album, as their washed shading is less naturalistic than that of a large group of colour-washed designs for chimney-pieces, in which cornices are included (section 5), and there are similarities with a dated design of 1689 by Gibbons for a wall monument at Clifton upon Teme in Worcestershire (Thurley 2003, fig. 159). A similar washed shading technique is found in a set of designs for room cornices and entablatures which share ornamental motifs with the five 'grey-wash' designs (section 2). Both sets of designs present chimney-pieces and room entablatures separately, and appear to pre-date the large group of colour-washed designs where detailing of the wall elevation is part of the design.

The drawing techniques in this large group of wall-to-ceiling chimney-pieces (section 5) are similar to those in a group of colour-washed designs for the wall elevations of Queen Mary's Closet (section 7). These two groups probably belong towards the end of the 1689-94 phase, when work on the interiors was being put in hand. It is noteworthy that Gibbons first appears in the Works Accounts for Hampton Court in September and October 1691 for carving external keystones (Wren Society, IV, pp. 50-51), and that in the Declared Accounts for 1691-94 he was paid £744 16s for unspecified 'carving work' (ibid., p. 25). His name is not linked with internal wood carving in the Declared Accounts until the period 1694-96, when he was paid £520 7s 4d 'for carving cornishes, Mouldings, & Picture frames, for architrave, freeze, subbase, & other carvers work' (ibid., pp. 27-28). This suggests that his own work in the decoration of the interiors at Hampton Court did not begin until 1694. His elevation to the post of Master Sculptor and Carver in Wood on 2 December 1693 may be connected with an increased role in the design and execution of internal wall elevations, and thus with the production of designs for chimney-pieces that include cornices and adjacent wall panels. On this basis it is possible to suggest that the designs for the wall elevations for Queen Mary's Closet, and another group for door surrounds in the king's apartments (section 6) date to the years 1693-94.

Documentary evidence for the completion of the designs for the interiors at Hampton Court Palace in 1689-94 is found in Wren's estimate of 28 April 1699 for finishing the king's apartments (Wren Society, IV, pp. 58-59). He states that 'All the Insides of these Roomes have been long since designed, and shall be presented to Your Majestie for your approbation & correction & accordingly the Expense may prove more or lesse'. One drawing that appears to have been revised at this time is Gibbons's design for the door to the King's Bedchamber, which is inscribed in pencil by Hawksmoor in a hand consistent with that on other drawings he prepared in 1699 for works to Bushy Park (section 6, no. 1; 110/57).



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Contents of Designs for chimney-pieces, room cornices and entablatures, door cases and internal wall elevations, c.1689-1694, mostly by Grinling Gibbons