An extremely fine mid-18th century style Palladian overmantle chimneypiece in carved pine in the manner of William Kent, hand stripped to the original timber surface. The overmantle section is crowned by a broken pedimented shelf centred by
a richly carved Imperial Roman eagle, clasping festoons of oak in his beak and talons. The pediment is decorated with dentils and carved acanthus, above a central panel on which an overmantle painting would once have hung, flanked by two pairs of cherubic herms to the front and side elevations.
The chimneypiece below is centred by a fabulously carved mask of Venus reminiscent of Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus circa 1480. In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility and was born of the foam from the sea after Saturn castrated his father, Uranus, and his blood fell to the ocean. After her birth she came ashore on a shell, pushed along by the breath of Zephyrus, the god of the west wind.
Venus is here depicted on a background of gathered drapery, perhaps reminiscent of the figure of Hora of Spring, who stands on dry land poised to wrap a cloak, decorated with spring flowers, around Venus to cover her beauty. Her hair is articulated in a clear homage to Botticelli’s style and is tied under her chin. The frieze is decorated with sprays of acanthus, flanked by corner blocks carved with scallop shells, further references to the mythology surrounding the Goddess’s birth. The tapering jambs are capped with ionic capitals and carved with fish scales.