Design for Chimney-Piece with Trophy of Arms 

Creator(s):   Grinling Gibbons 1648-1721

Date:    Undated, but in period 1689-94

Accession Number:   SM 110/41

Dimensions:   451mm x 245mm

Materials:   Pen and russet brown ink, over graphite under drawing, with yellow ochre, pink-brown, lime-green and grey washes, and ruled graphite shading on face of obelisk; later black ink redrawing of baseline; 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 Trophy of Arms © Sir John Soane's Museum


This design for  a chimney-piece with a trophy of arms is an extraordinarily ambitious proposal, requiring virtuoso carving for the figures, swags and trophy motif in the overmantel. Gibbons has drawn a full cornice above the chimney-piece bay, instead of the coved version found in most rooms in the king’s apartments. The cornice profile is that used most often for the plainer Doric or Ionic orders, rather than the Corinthian or Composite (compare 110/59 [Design for Corinthian Room Entablature on this website]), and Gibbons has not decorated it with relief carving; nor has he chosen to apply relief ornament to the frieze (as on 110/58 and 60 [Design for Coved Room Cornice and Design for Room Entablature with Cornice]). He excludes this possibility by drawing a WM monograph in gilded intertwined leaves in the centre of the frieze. The emphasis is on plainness and severity, in keeping with the martial theme of the overmantel. This theme pervades every detail, from the garlanded obelisk (triumph and eternity) to the small George and the dragon motif on the frieze of the pilaster of the fire surround.

Literature: Wren Society, vol. IV, pl. 36, top.

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

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