• Focal Point - The Nicholas Gif auction at Christies

    Sale 5975

    Focal Point - The Nicholas Gifford-Mead Collection of Chimneypieces & Ornament

    29 October 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 70

    A GEORGE III WHITE STATUARY MARBLE CHIMNEYPIECE

    FROM A DESIGN BY ROBERT ADAM, CIRCA 1781

    Price Realised  

    A GEORGE III WHITE STATUARY MARBLE CHIMNEYPIECE
    FROM A DESIGN BY ROBERT ADAM, CIRCA 1781
    The rectangular moulded shelf above a frieze of alternating heads of Bacchus and Ceres encircled by vine and corn-wreaths, the panelled jambs carved with ribbon-tied interlaced trailing vines each headed by a patera with crossed bacchic thyrsae
    61 in. (161.5 cm.) high; 82 in. (209 cm.) wide; 8 in (17 cm.) deep; the opening 48 in. (122 cm.) x 52½ in. (133.3 cm.)


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    This superb Robert Adam white statuary chimneypiece with bas relief carving of the highest quality was commissioned by Sir George (Amyand) Cornewell Bt (1748 -1819) for the Moccas Court Eating Room in 1781.
    Sir George Cornewell Bt (1) came into the Moccas estate by marrying the heiress Catherine Cornewell in 1771. In addition Sir George inherited from his father £158,000, a number of properties in England & the West Indies, and shares in Staples & Co, a London banking firm until 1776. On the transition from a commercial career to that of politician and country gentleman Sir George made the decision, as befitting his new status, to build a new house at Moccas in 1775.
    In that year Sir George commissioned Robert Adam to design the new house and the drawings for which survive at the Sir John Soane Museum. The house was built in a modified form under the supervision of a local architect Anthony Keck (1726-1797)(2). In 1785 further payments were made to Robert Adam for a second series of drawings relating to the interior decoration. In Adams design of a chimneypiece for the eating room at Moccas,(3) the bold architectural form, theme, and carving to the jambs is very similar to the present chimneypiece. It is most likely that Sir George chose elements from Adam's various designs to arrive at the present chimneypiece. The theme of Ceres and Flora has been replaced by a frieze of alternating heads of Bacchus and Ceres surrounded by corn and vine intertwining garlands. A similar chimneypiece frieze was drawn by Robert Adam for Portland Place in 1776 (4).
    (1)
    Nicholas Thompson, Moccas Court, Herefordshire Country Life 11 & 25 Nov 1976
    (2)
    Nicholas Kingsley The Work of Anthony Keck, Country Life, 20 & 27 October, 1988
    (3)
    Vol 23 no. 138, Adam drawings in the John Soane Museum
    (4)
    Vol 24 no 141, Adam drawings in the John Soane Museum

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    This lot will be removed to an off-site warehouse at the close of business on the day of sale - 2 weeks free storage


    Provenance

    Sir George Cornewall, Bt (1748-1819) Moccas Court, Herefordshire and by descent at Moccas Court.