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Five sketch designs, with alternatives, for plainer chimney-pieces, related to designs in 1, 4, and 5


Five sketch designs, with alternatives, for plainer chimney-pieces, related to designs in 1, 4, and 5

Signed and dated

  • 1689
    Main Year
  • 1690-94
    Other Years


These five sketch designs (110/48, 33, 51, 42, 46) may be amongst the earliest by Gibbons in the Hampton Court volume, since motifs in several of them occur a more developed form in some of the grandest of his compositions (e.g. the armorial and drapery motifs in 1 and 5; 110/48 and 46) which recur in 110/38 and 26. The absence of any indication of room cornices on the designs is one factor that tends to associate the sketches with the five predominantly grey-washed designs in section 6/1, and could indicate that they pre-date Gibbons's involvement in carved interior work at Hampton Court in 1694.

On the other hand, the lack of sculptural and architectural framing around the hearths sets these sketch designs apart from Gibbons's grander compositions in sections 4 and 5, below. The sketch designs could, in fact, be re-workings of the earlier schemes, prepared fairly late in the design process (e.g. c.1694, or perhaps even as late as 1699 when work resumed on the refitting of the interiors of the state apartments). One design bears a scale in another hand (3; 110/51), suggesting a proposal for execution.

Common characteristics of this group are: (1) very loose pen outline technique, lacking precision in the detailing of foliage and the human figure; (2) light washed technique, in just one or two applications in a dilution of the grey-brown ink of the line drawing, with coloured wash on only one drawing (2; 110/33); (3) presentation of two clear alternative schemes in one drawing, either side of a central vertical line, drawn firmly in graphite; (4) a plain fire surround frame, without mouldings; (5) no indication of room cornice; (6) much reduced scheme for relief carving, the motifs limited to drops of fruit and flowers, some drapery and simple figures; (7) emphasis on the area above the fire surround as the main compartment for sculptural display; (8) the use of a smooth white laid paper in sheets of smaller dimensions than the others by Gibbons.

Four of the five drawings are on whitish writing paper produced by at the Nersac paper mill of Claude de George, near Angoulême, France, for Abram Janssen, a Dutch factor. Hence they have the watermark of an ornamental fleur de lys over 4WR and AJ, and the countermark CDG (see English Baroque architectural drawings / Introduction).



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Contents of Five sketch designs, with alternatives, for plainer chimney-pieces, related to designs in 1, 4, and 5