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  • image A23

Intarsia (marble mosaic) panel of a youth driving a biga (chariot) drawn by a pair of stags.

18th century

Engraved and inlaid marble

Height: 69cm
Width: 88cm

Museum number: A23

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 490Ahelp-vermeule-catalogue-number

On display: Lobby to the Breakfast Room
All spaces are in No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields unless identified as in No. 12, Soane's first house. For tours https://www.soane.org/your-visit

Curatorial note

A youth, clad only in a cloak which hangs from his left shoulder and flutters out behind, drives a pair of stags to the right, in a Roman-type chariot with a decorated wheel and garlands on the body.

The composition and execution are clearly work of the eighteenth century. Cornelius Vermeule included this intarsia panel in his catalogue of Soane's antiquities because of its traditional association with Hadrian's Villa, no doubt a 'provenance' provided prior to its entry into Bishop North's collection and preserved by Soane in his descriptions of the piece. This work is an excellent example of the most dubious class of objects which early romantic archaeology, coupled with deliberate misinformation on the part of dealers, linked with the famous Villa which was in effect the great hunting ground of the neoclassical period for ancient marbles outside Rome itself.

Soane displayed this piece in his ground floor Lobby to the Breakfast Room, created in c.1825 where it is shown in a watercolour view of 1826.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Purchased by Soane at the sale of the collection of the Rev. Charles Augustus North, held by Christie's at Alverstoke in October 1825 (a copy of the Catalogue is in the Soane Collection. This panel was part of Lot 66 (3 items) which Soane bought for £9.5.0: [Lot] 66 A slab of various Marbles, with a Figure of a Youth in a Car, drawn by stags, of Statuary, engraved and inlaid in a ground of Green Marble, with a border of Brocadella and Statuary, 34½ inches by 27 [sold with part of a pavement, and a centre Tablet for a Marble Chimneypiece]. The descriptions aren’t good enough for us to know for certain whether the ‘part of a pavement’ or the relief table for a marble chimneypiece are still in our collection. Soane's former pupil James Adams bid for him at the North Sale and in a letter (with the Catalogue, sent with it to Soane years later in 1835) he wrote: It gives me much pleasure / to enclose the catalogue for which you / enquired. I regret, however, to perceive, on turning it over, that the information conveyed by it is so exceedingly scanty - / with respect, however, to the classical articles / of virtue, Dr North, a short time previous to his death, told me that they were // collected by his late father (the Bishop of Winchester) / during a residence in Italy . Rev. North's father was Bishop Brownlow North (1741-1820) son of the 1st Earl of Guilford and half-sibling of Lord North (who became Prime Minister). The DNB gives the following information about his travels: 'By the late 1780s both the bishop and Mrs North were suffering poor health enough to justify a four-year expedition to Italy and southern Germany ... They were at Regensburg in 1794–5 ... Mrs North finally died on 17 November 1796 and was buried in Winchester Cathedral'.


Description of Sir John Soane's Museum: 1930, pp. 84-85.

Associated items

Vol 82/119, depicted

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