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Caryatid after the Caryatids on the Southern Porch of the Erechtheion, Acropolis, Athens

Coade's Artificial Stone Manufactory Co. (1769 - 1840)

Category

Art / Sculpture

Date

1700 - 1799

Materials

Coade stone

Measurements

192 x 60 x 40 cm

Place of origin

Lambeth

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Collection

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire, East of England, National Trust

NT 516655.2

Summary

Sculpture, Coade stone. One of six Caryatids after the Caryatids on the Southern Porch of the Erechtheion, Acropolis, Athens, by Coade's Artificial Stone Manufactory Co. 18th century. Six Coade stone caryatids in the form of Greek maidens wearing robes and pelops, with carved capitols on their heads. On stone pedestals with carved medallions or rosettes. Originally installed by Sir John Soane in the drum of the dome over Buckingham House, Pall Mall, rebuilt by Soane for the 1st Marquis of Buckingham, 1792-95, and demolished in 1908. Presumably bought by Lord Fairhaven for Anglesey Abbey at some point after 1926 when he acquired Anglesey Abbey. Six over-lifesize figures (all from the same mould), standing with arms by their sides, wearing a peplos, part of which is gathered up in the left hand; weight on the left leg, shod in, in Lanning Roper’s words, ‘platform sandals, very modern in conception’; hair falling in braided ringlets over the shoulders; on the head of each (a separate piece of stone) is a capital decorated with an egg-and-dart motif. These were at one point surmounted by ‘enormous terracotta baskets of a later date’ (Lanning Roper, p.50, & pl.24b) – possibly the form in which they were bought by Lord Fairhaven – but these were removed before 1964. On the basis of the inscribed date of 1793 visible on the bases of three of them, these statues have been convincingly identified as among those which once held up the dome of the oval lantern above the staircase at Buckingham House, Pall Mall, rebuilt by John Soane for the first Marquis of Buckingham in 1792-95 (Alison Kelly, ‘Sir John Soane and Mrs Eleanor Coade’, Apollo, April 1989, p.251). A preliminary design by Soane (reproduced in Dorothy Stroud, Sir John Soane Architect, London & Boston, 1992, pl.92) showing a section of the staircase hall includes seven caryatids, five along the side and one at each end, suggesting a complement of either twelve or fourteen in all. However a later watercolour by Soane shows four caryatids arranged round the end of the oval hall, rather than along the side, where there is no longer a cornice (reproduced in Stroud, op. cit., pl.93, and in Charles Saumarez-Smith, Eighteenth-Century Decoration: Design and the Domestic Interior in England, London 1996, no.293), indicating that the design was altered, and Soane was eventually only billed for eight figures (Kelly, art. cit). Buckingham House appears to have been the first use of Eleanor Coade’s ‘Caryatid’ model, which evidently became a favourite with Soane.

Provenance

Part of the Fairhaven Collection. The house and contents were bequeathed to the National Trust in 1966 by Huttleston Rogers Broughton, 1st Lord Fairhaven (1896-1966)

Makers and roles

Coade's Artificial Stone Manufactory Co. (1769 - 1840), manufacturer

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