This striking white statuary and Sienna marble chimneypiece boasts a finely carved statuary centre tablet depicting a scene from the ancient legend of Androcles and the Lion, depicting Androcles removing a thorn from its paw. This story was ascribed to Aesop from medieval times. The frieze is supported by a pair of free standing, fluted, cable stopped Ionic columns beneath distinctive Bacchic goat mask decorated blocking.
A marble chimneypiece of superb quality from the London workshops of the highly successful sculptor and leading Rococo designer Sir Henry Cheere (1703–81). He ran a major business in monuments, statues and chimneypieces many carved by assistants and subcontractors under his direction. His work is renowned for its consistent high quality.
Closely related examples from Cheere's workshops are known, including the following:
Cheere's main chimneypiece competitors Benjamin and Thomas Carter produced their own version of this centre tablet notably for Saltram, Devon, Uppark, Sussex, Newstead Abbey, Notts and Russbrough, Ireland.
During the 18th century proverbs, wise sayings and adages were popular daily fare and were used for witty entertainment and sage advice. Aesop’s fables were a sought after source and when depicted as engravings or in three dimensional form also served as reminders of human virtue and frailty.
Cheere retired in 1769 and his "Entire large and valuable collection of statuary busts, basso reliefs in marble terra-cotta and gesso" were sold by Longford and Son in Convent Garden on 26 and 27 March 1770, the terra-cotta model was sold on the first day "Tablets and Freezes in Terra- Cota", lot 56, "One, Androcles taking the thorn out of lions foot" for £3 and 6 shillings, buyer unknown but not purchased by Cheere's ex manager Richard Haywood (1726–1800) who made major purchases for his newly established chimneypiece manufacturing business.
Height 66 3/4 in (169.5cm) width 86 1/4 in (219cm)
Internal height 46 in (117cm) width 51 3/4 in (131cm)