This George III design, providing alternative schemes for a chimney-piece with dentillated cornice and central flower-vase tablet, is in the antique or Roman fashion introduced in the late 1760s. The left side features a Grecian palm-flowered frieze accompanied by a sacred urn tablet set above an Ionic column of Sienna marble. The other side features 'Ceres' libation-patera festooned with beribboned acanthus-husks, together with a tablet of a flowered-patera set above a pilaster with a bacchic lion-mask bearing flowered 'rainceaux' of Roman acanthus. A related design for an ionic-columned and patteraed chimneypiece was published in John Crunden, The Chimney-Piece Maker's Assistant, 1766 (pl.32).
This drawing was previously folded, sealed and addressed on the reverse 'A Monsieur/Monsieur J. Freeman/chez Monsieur le Marquis/Belloni/a Rome/en Italie/Rcd/George Clemson' and posted. Belloni was the principal banker for foreigners at Rome: a document in the Strickland of Apperley Papers, Gloucester County Record Office, records that John Freeman was certainly in Rome in 1773 and may well have been there earlier.
The present drawing and lot 43 were part of a collection of architectural drawings sold in these Rooms on 30 November 1983 (lots 162-187) relating to the Freeman family's houses at Fawley Court, near Henley and Chute Lodge, near Andover. Taylor was employed to rebuild Chute Lodge for John Freeman, following his move there after Freeman's marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Strickland of Boynton. Other drawings by Taylor for Chute in the collection comprised two ceiling designs and a door case inscribed 'if this should not please then Mr Taylor desires Mr Freeman will please to write'.
The family papers record the interest the Freemans evidently took in the architecture of their properties: Sambrooke Freeman, John's elder brother employed James Wyatt at Fawley to refit the house and added the island temple that still stands today on the island in Henley Reach.
Taylor was apprenticed to the sculptor Sir Henry Cheere at the age of eighteen and became one of the most successful architects of his time specialising in country house architecture designed to appeal to his clientele of rich merchants and bankers, building compact houses on new sites without large estates to support them.