Sir John Soane is undoubtedly among the greatest architects of the 18th century . His influence on Jamb finds its way into both fireplace and furniture design. However for many years I have been creating a homage to the great man in our Camberwell home through architectural fragment remains from the 18th century. Marble Chimneypiece tablets, Coade plaques and other fireplace fragments line the walls.
On what remains from the 18th century.
30 October 2015
After my Christies sale when I sold most of my beloved antique collection
I restarted collecting architectural Chimneypiece fragments again, adding central tablets, Jambs and end blocks to the remnants of what remained .
The beginning of the 18th century is marked by the heavy and robust carving which becomes finer and finer through the century. The fragments wear their age and history, I have never cleaned any of them, so you get the subtle changes of tone where they have weathered under different conditions.
I envisioned a room big enough to display my collection with just a desk and a globe…However the reality is that my homage to Soane is also the homage to TV…
I coveted the Head of Hercules for almost twenty years and like all antiques it has passed through the hands of many dealers. It belonged to David Humphries, who had it on the Kings road, who I believe sold it to Patrick Jefferson. Then he sold it to a private client, who ended up selling it in a single owner sale in Christies Kings street. It is Terracota on Portland stone and as the name suggests, it holds a weight as profound as a small chimneypiece. Tonally and sculpturally it’s beautiful.
Above Hercules is an Italian running frieze of a fireplace which dates to the first half of the nineteenth century. I adore the fluidity and depth of carving of the vine leaves in the white statuary marble.
Underneath Hercules is part of a carved stone 18th century entablature, not from a chimneypiece. It retains its original paint and gilded surface.
On the right hand wall is an encased carved central tablet in the manner of the neo classicist architect William chambers (1723-1796) – a contemporary and major rival of Robert Adam. (1728-1792) The second and third piece are early to mid 18th century in the manner of William Kent (1685-1748).
On the right hand side of the Soanian mahogany door the fragments are mid to late,where there is still a weight to the carving but it is not slight and feathery.
At the top Cupid sleeps, a symbol of absent or languishing love in Renaissance poetry and art. Below a bucolic scene in the style of Sir Henry Cheere is placed . The Shepherd with his uncorrupted soul, living close to nature.
To balance out the tv that sits below, we have an Italian seventeenth century, (possibly sixteenth) Pietra Serena Italian stone. The fragments below are mid –late 18th century English. I love The lion head with its particulary weathered journey. Below the Lion is a piece of Portland stone in the manner of Henry cheere, (1703-1781) depiciting an extremerly beautifully carved pastoral scene – a perfect balance I find to Saturday’s X Factor!