In the December issue of House and Garden magazine I discuss the merits between choosing an antique or reproduction mantel for your home. The chimneypiece is the focal point of any room and therefore the first place to start when you are creating your interiors. The choice of antique versus reproduction usually comes down to a client’s budget and in the past few years there has been a renewed interest in our finer antique chimneypieces. While there is something very special about owning a beautiful antique chimneypiece with an amazing provenance, clients who chose a reproduction version are always amazed by the techniques we use to give a new piece an aged patina and the feel of an antique one. With the reproduction pieces, stylistically there is an appetite for simpler, less heavily carved designs and we have brought out four new designs that reflect this.
Charlotte and I were interviewed for Country life this week on the bolection chimneypiece, as explained by Charlotte, ‘If you were to take a Regency fireplace with fine carving and flutes and make it with a very figured marble, it would be visually complicated,’ But when there’s only a simple moulding, then it’s all about the marble and it makes for an exquisite focal piece in a very contemporary setting. Where there’s no patterned fabric in the room: the only drama is the marble!’
The first time I used Occhio di Pavone was for a bolection in the Hanbury street project above and I loved it so much I bought another huge block to work with for future projects. You never know what you are going to reveal when you cut into ancient stone and marble and the finished surface and markings are just fabulous.
The Trapani reproduction mantel in Travertine marble.
There are so many rich and varied marbles to choose from: including Breche Violette, Arabascato, Nero Marquina and Occhio di Pavone (Peacocks eye illustrated in the first image), but it didn’t take me long to realise how magnificent the new Trapani reproduction mantel would look cut in Travertine marble, accentuating the deep concave curves and simple rectangular frame with the striations of the marble, giving this Art Deco inspired fireplace extra width and presence in a perfectly subtle fusion.
What has always fascinated me about the bolection mantel is the wonderful dichotomy between its antique origins and contemporary look. The pure form originates from the 17th Century but it could have been designed yesterday. It was Christopher Wren who discovered the bolection form in Italy and anglicized it to work within English interiors. He modified the Italian design; softening the moulding and added a footblock. He was so passionate about the uncomplicated style of the fire surround he used it in the redesign of King William III private rooms in Hampton Court Palace. We have five bolection designs now in our reproduction collection that we make in various Breche, white and black marbles.
The Walden is one of the newest additions made in Jamb Breche. There is no shelf with the Walden which may cause frustration for those who love to see their wedding invites and precious objects displayed but to me it’s pure form is divine.
The shallowness of this 18th Century bolection will please the brave and the purist! As the mantel is all about balance and proportion, a shelf necessitates depth, so the shallowness of this 18th Century bolection will work well in a room with small dimensions. I love the versatile nature of the Easton bolection and how it works perfectly in a scaled back interior or in perfect harmony within the vibrancy of Kit Kemp’s visual interior feast at Turnell & Gigon’s showroom in Chelsea Harbour.
Our Mereworth design is an exquisite example of using the fine Italian breche we have in stock and we have just finished carving an example of this classic architectural chimneypiece of simple, early 18th Century ‘eared’ design and installed it into our London showroom. The horizontal marble frieze extends beyond the uprights with stepped and moulded panels and the whole is supported on footblocks. It is flanked here by a pair of 18th Century hall chairs and set against a wall of our reproduction wall lights. A pair of our newly designed Jacob fire dogs are inspired by an original George II fire basket. The late 18th century oval carved giltwood wall mirror with egg and dart carving reflects our Mask Globe reproduction lantern.
The chimneypiece can be an opportunity to add glamour, whether that is through carved embellishment or the use of coloured marbles. It was Lutyens who added the ‘importance’ of the marble and we are extremely proud that we can put this to play with our extensive collection of coloured and black marbles.