Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Pen and ink and watercolour
  • 11 ⅜ × 16 inches · 289 × 406 mm
  • Signed and dated: ‘Joseph Bonamy Archict. Febry. 1782’ (lower left)
    Inscribed: ‘Design of a Chimney-piece for Wm Lock’s Esq., in Upper Brook Street.’ 
  • £9,500

Collections

  • J.S. Maas & Co;
  • W A Brandt (1902-1978) acquired from the above;
  • By descent to 2024

Exhibitions

  • London, Royal Institute of British Architects, Heinze Gallery, Joseph Bonomi, Architect, 1988, cat. no.3

This beautiful watercolour design for a chimneypiece was made by the Italian architect and draughtsman Joseph Bonomi for the collector William Lock. The Rome born Bonomi spent much of his career working in close partnership with Robert and James Adam, eventually forging a successful career as an independent architect, particularly of country houses. This crisply worked watercolour demonstrates Bonomi’s command of the sophisticated neo-classical language of the Adam partnership.

William Lock was a celebrated collector and patron, described by Joseph Farington on his death as being: ‘a gentleman who for nearly half a century has been ranked in the first class of Amateurs of the fine arts, possessing superior taste and information.’[1] Lock travelled in Italy with Richard Wilson, formed a remarkable collection of paintings and sculpture, including Claude’s The Embarkation of St Ursula, now in the National Gallery, and was an important supporter of Thomas Lawrence. Lock lived at 51 Brook Street in Mayfair, for which the present chimneypiece was designed. This drawing is one of a series prepared for clients in 1782, the year after Bonomi left the Adams and established an independent practice.

The measured design is in full sympathy with the decorative neo-classicism developed by the Adam brothers. The top of the chimneypiece combines roundels of Amorini, a frieze of antique torchers, garlands and paterae, with a central design of three dancing figures against a rich brown ground. The chimneypiece supports are formed of delicate all’antica designs formed of a torcher base containing a thyrsus, these decorative elements are given a note of architectural severity with a border of small rosettes.

References

  1. Ed. Kathryn Cave, The Diary of Joseph Farington, New Haven and London, 1982, vol.X, p.3781.