italian marble antique fireplace

Please note: This item has been sold

A fine and rare, carved statuary marble antique fireplace, Italian late 18th, or early 19th century. The rectangular moulded shelf above a frieze centred by a carved relief depicting a bird (pelican), attacking a snake within a moulded oval, flanked by a pair of cone tipped staffs entwined with trailing vines and bunches of grapes, the compound moulded opening with carved beads, the jambs of square columnar form headed by plain capitals and carved flower-head, vine leaves and tendril paterae above classical urns with scrolling handles supporting cone tipped staffs entwined with vines and bunches of grapes. The unusual choice of a pelican attacking a snake as the central tablet for this chimneypiece could well be a reference to the attribute of Charity, one the foremost ‘theological virtues’. The overt use of vines draped around a staff would indicate that this chimneypiece was intended for use in a ‘Dining Parlour’ as vines and grapes are an attribute of Bacchus. It is tempting to associate the name of Giovanni Battista Piranesi with designs of this period; cf Giovanni Battista Piranesi, The Complete Etchings, Volume II, John Wilton Ely, San Francisco, 1994, page 898, plate 825, for a chimneypiece incorporating pelicans attacking snakes on a Medusa head. However this simplified design indicates the hand of a designer, who whilst aware of Piranesi, has created a lighter and more lucid form.