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Finished drawing for the Etruscan dressing room chimneypiece and overmantel, 1774, as executed (1)

Notes

The Etruscan dressing room chimneypiece and overmantel are included in the second volume of The works in architecture of Robert and James Adam (part 1, plate 6), and are illustrated in accordance with Adam's drawing. The preface to this plate reads:

Two Chimney-pieces: in the Great Withdrawing-room, and the Countess of Derby's Dressing-room. The former is finely executed, in statuary marble, inlaid with various coloured scagliola and brass ornamented, gilt in or moulu. The glass-frame over it is carved in wood, and gilt. The latter is likewise executed in statuary marble, inlaid with scagliola, in the Etruscan style, both with regard to the form of the ornament, and the peculiarity of the colouring. The glass-frame over it is of wood, carved and coloured in the same manner.

Here it is suggested that the chimneypiece and overmantel - in both Adam's drawing and the Works - are shown as executed.

The scheme had originally been designed for the glass drawing room at Northumberland House in 1773 (Adam volume 22/55), but according to Harris, the Duke of Northumberland was persuaded to release the design as more appropriate for Lady Derby's Etruscan dressing room. Indeed, Harris continues, this is 'one of the few mirrors in the so-called "Etruscan" style indicated here only by the brief use of a black ground'.

The chimneypiece was lost when the house was demolished in 1862, but the overmantel mirror frame was removed to Battle Abbey, East Sussex. It was hung in the drawing room of that house until 1978, when it was sold into a private collection. The mirror was sold again on 25 February 2012 at High Road Auctions of Chiswick to another private collector.

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

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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.

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