A superb George III Neo -classical fireplace mantel of the Roman Doric order
A superb George III Neo -classical fireplace mantel of the Roman Doric order

Attributed to SIR WILLIAM CHAMBERS (1723-1796)

A superb George III Neo -classical fireplace mantel of the Roman Doric order

1765 to 1770 England

Offered by Jamb

£95,000 gbp
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The tiered shelf with egg and dart,(symbolic of good and evil) moulding, above the frieze, which is centred with a rectangular tablet, superbly sculpted with a bucranium mask of an ox skull. This has horns and a jewelled decoration adorns the skull above the eyes, the horns are draped with bunched, knotted ribbons, which hold swags of tied bell flowers, the other end of which are secured and fall from circular, flower decorated paterae. This is flanked by Brocatelle panels and recessed, statuary end blockings. The jambs with pilaster Brocatelle uprights, flanked by statuary out grounds with scrolling volutes decorated with sprigs of foliage. The opening with moulded edge, the whole raised on foot blocks.

The Doric Order with its boldness and robustness appealed to Chambers and his academic style, which was a sophisticated compound of French Neo-classicism and a refined English Palladianism, his chimney piece designs have a sculptural monumentality, that characterised his work. In his Treatise on Civil Architecture, published in 1759, which quickly became the standard work on the use of the Orders, superseding, Issac Ware's Complete body of Architecture, He writes " The Doric is next in strength to the Tuscan; and, being of a grave, robust and masculine aspect, is by Scamozzi called the Herculean, it is the most ancient of orders ". He illustrates the Roman Doric Order, (though the Greeks might have been the first to give convincing form to the elements of architecture, Chambers thought that the Romans had brought the art to perfection).

Chambers used his Doric chimney pieces through out all rooms, hall, (Paksted house, with bucranium mask), dining, (Gower house, London), bed (Milton Abbey, with five bucranium masks) of his buildings, unlike his rival Robert Adam who always used them only in entrance Halls. the only exception being one in the dining room at Osterly, which might have been designed by Chambers. We know of no extant chimney pieces with bucranium masks by Adam.

In the Victoria and Albert museum one of Chambers, Doric chimney piece designs has survived, This is pen and ink, pencil with grey and ivory washes, has an almost identical, bucranium, centre tablet (D 1260-18980) See illustration.

After Chambers return to England, from his grand Tour, he visited Holkham Hall, Norfolk, in 1755 and sketched, and annotated a bucranium decorated chimney piece after a design by Inigo Jones, no doubt the inspiration for him later, this is now in the Victoria Albert Museum. See illustration, (Franco Italian Album VAM 5712.426 page 32)

The attractive, Violet Brocatelle marble, with it's shades of violet and yellow, came from the Tortosa quarry in Spain which was opened in Antiquity and writing in his Treatise, (page 79), Chambers reports that " Chimney-pieces are composed of wood, stone or marble, the last of which is to be preferred. All ornaments, figures, or profiles, are best when of the pure white sort; other parts may be made of marbles of variegated colours; such as the yellow of Sienna and the Brocatello of Spain."
Sir William Chambers, edited by J Harris, Yale, 1966, Sir William Chambers, M. Snodin, V.A,1966
Height 1105.00 mm (43.50 inches)
Width 1194.00 mm (47.01 inches)
External Height 1442.00 mm (56.77 inches)
External Width 1934.00 mm (76.14 inches)
External Depth 204.00 mm (8.03 inches)
Stock Code
Carved Statuary and Brocatelle Marble

95–97 Pimlico Road,
United Kingdom

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