Design for Chimney-Piece with Obelisk 

Creator(s):   Grinling Gibbons 1648-1721

Date:    Undated, but datable 1689-94

Accession Number:   SM 110/34

Dimensions:   410mm x 237mm

Materials:   Pen and brown ink with pink, light green, yellow, green-grey, blue and grey washes over graphite under drawing, with ruled graphite shading on the pink wall covering and freehand graphite shading on the obelisk on laid paper

Location:   Sir John Soane's Museum

Credit Line (copyright notice for material) :   © Sir John Soane's Museum

Online Catalogue Entry :

Design for Chimney-Piece with Obelisk © Sir John Soane's Museum


Design for a chimney-piece with obelisk. The porcelain vase stands on a gadrooned convex podium that rests on a convex-sided plinth with fishscale decoration on its central relief panel. The vase would probably have been in porcelain rather than trompe l’oeil carving. The ruled graphite lines on the pink of the wall covering around the picture frame may indicate the sheen of damask, or mosaic (see 110/24 [Design for Chimney-Piece with Putti and Wreath on this website]). Limewood carving would probably have been restricted to the draped ribbons and wreaths of flowers and laurel leaves around the obelisk, and to the draped curtains over the top of the picture frame. It is possible that the draped obelisk is intended as a symbol of mourning and that the design could, therefore, post-date the death of Queen Mary in December 1694. Gibbons has sketched and partly inked the outlines of a three-part entablature at the top of the design. This would indicate a principal state room.

Literature: Wren Society, IV, pl. 30, bottom.

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

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