7004

A PAIR OF MARBLE CHIMNEYPIECES POSSIBLY DESIGNED BY WILLIAM KENT

English. Circa 1730.

Measurements

Height: 72" (183 cm)
Width: 118 1/2" (301 cm)
Depth: 26 " (66 cm)
Height of aperture: 47" (120cm)
Width of aperture: 48" (123cm).

Research

Of statuary marble and veined green marble. Each surmounted by a projecting shaped shelf above boldly carved  tongue and dart and dentilled moldings, the breakfronted frieze centered by a plaque carved with a mask of Apollo surrounded by a sunburst, the plaque flanked by a rampant lion to one side and a spread eagle to the other, both surrounded by berried foliate swags, the aperture edged with a wreath molding and surrounded by a band of mollusc and lotus molding, the aperture flanked by the canted jambs carved in the form of two female terms, the heads bearing carved basket supports and flanked by husk pendants, the green vined side panels mounted with with foliate swags terminating in carved shells, the sides flanked by rectangular plinths mounted with carved volutes issuing foliate pendants and swags, raised on molded plinths.  Restored.

Provenance:
Possibly supplied to Sir Richard Child for Wanstead House, Essex.
Possibly acquired by Stanard and Athow of Norwich at the sale of the fittings and materials of Wanstead House, May 1823, and sold on immediately after the auction.
Installed by Nathanial Rothschild in his London mansion, 148 Piccadilly, by 1848.
Included in The Magnificent Contents of 148 Piccadilly W.1 Sold by order of Victor Rothschild Esq., Sotheby & Co, 19 April 1937.
Removed in 1959 prior to the demolition of 148 Piccadilly.
Crowther & Son, London?
Private collection, Vancouver.

Illustrated:
Christopher Simon Sykes, Private Palaces: Life in the Great London Houses, London, 1985, p304.

These magnificent chimneypieces can be confidently attributed to William Kent on the basis of sketches made by the architect William Chambers of a chimneypiece at Wanstead House, Essex (figure 1). 1 The splendour of Wanstead is difficult to overestimate. According to one contemporary observer, Mr Young, “Wanstead, upon the whole, is one of the noblest houses in England. The magnificence of having four state bed-chambers, with complete apartments to them, and the ball-room, are superior to anything of the kind in Houghton, Holkham, Blenhim and Wilton.”2 The house, which was designed by the architect Colen Campbell, was built for the banker Sir Richard Child between 1714 and 1720 was arguably the greatest country house of the Palladian period. Kent’s involvement in the decoration of the interiors Wanstead is certain. Kent painted representations of Morning, Noon, Evening and Night on the expansive ceiling of the Great Hall and his authorship was celebrated by a portrait of the artist which hung in the same room.

The Chambers sketch which relates to the present chimneys was probably executed around 1756.3 It depicts a chimneypiece with female term bearing a basket on her head below a massive protruding cornice comprising a series of mouldings almost identical to those on the cornices of the present pieces. Additional similarities between the drawing and the present piece are provided by the foliate carving to the lower section of the term and the distinctive molding on which it is raised. The drawing, which is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, is inscribed in Chambers’ hand “Wanstead fine Kent.” Surviving furniture and elements from Wanstead now at Chatsworth House and “Wanstead Villa” in Cambridge reveal that other decorative elements also had a strong Kentian feel.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.