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Overmantel

Category

Architecture / Interiors

Date

1564

Materials

Carved oak

Place of origin

Westmorland (England)

Collection

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria

On show at

Sizergh Castle, Cumbria, North, National Trust

NT 998728

Summary

A carved oak overmantel, English, dated 1564. This extremely fine overmantel is divided into three bays, flanked on the outside by a pair of engaged Corinthian columns with fluted shafts and circular plinths carved with foliate strapwork. The two outer, slender panels carved with scroll-edged armorial cartouches. That on the left quarterly of eight, with the arms of Strickland quartering Deincourt, Neville, Ward, Tempest and Umfraville, all beneath a Mannerist urn and foliate scrolls and flowers, and above a waisted scroll-edged tablet. That on the right quarterly of eight Strickland quartering Deincourt impaling Neville quartering Ward, beneath similar Mannerist ornament and above an oval boss inlaid with the date 1564. The central large panel flanked to either side by caryatid figures bearing baskets of fruit upon their heads and above draped tapering plinths carved with a lion mask issuing a pendant flower from its mount. The central panel, also with armorial cartouche, bearing the quartered arms of Strickland beneath a helm and flanked by supporters (a stag for Ward, and a bull for Neville), above a grotesque mask. The helm flanked by putti figures and by birds, scrolls and festoons of foliage. The fireplace opening flanked by large figural Atlas figures, bearded and sporting baskets of flowers and fruit atop their heads, both on tapering plinths with a ram's mask and a pendant garland of foliage. On paneled bases applied with mouldings. Now in the Dining Room at Sizergh, which was originally William Strickland's Great Chamber, a new room made in the 1560s by dividing the old Solar into two. This was where Walter would entertain eminent guests. Hence, the display of the family's heraldic achievements to this overmantel. The adjacent Queen's Room was once William Strickland's Withdrawing Chamber, and is decorated with an overmantel dated 1569 [NT 998729], the year that Walter Strickland died. This is the second oldest of the surviving four indigenous overmantels at Sizergh (there is a screen which has been removed from its original position dated 1558, and a fifth overmantel which was brought to Sizergh from Borwick Hall). Derived from Italian Renaissance and Flemish engraved design prints. See, for instance, 'Opus de Ludicro Picturae' by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau, published in 1562, which features a waisted rectangular cartouche very like that which appears beneath the armorial to the left panel of this overmantel. Jacob Floris' (1524 - 1581) 'Compertementorum quod vocant multiplex genus', published in Antwerp in 1564 may well also have been an influence. The exact date of publication of Hans Vredeman de Vries' (b. 1527) 'Caryatidum', published in Antwerp, is unknown, but it may well have inspired the figural terms to this overmantel. The quality of the very fine carving, and the Continental influences employed, strongly suggest that this was the work of foreign, probably Flemish, immigrant craftsmen, rather than native joiners and carvers. Nearby Levens Hall contains some similar woodwork.

Provenance

Given by Henry Hornyold Strickland (1890 – 1975) with Sizergh Castle and its estates in 1950.

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