This rare painted over-mantel represents many of the architectural ideals of the seventeenth century. The Civil War and its aftermath had sent many gentlemen and nobles to the Continent where they came into contact with French, Dutch and Italian architecture. With Charles's restoration in 1660, there was a flurry of building activity as royalists reclaimed their property and built themselves houses reflecting the latest European trends. The houses of the British Baroque were formal, geometrical and symmetrical, a reassertion of authority and an expression of an ideology by men who remembered a world turned upside down during the Civil War. They were designed so that the lord of the house would sit in his dining chamber at the physical as well as the metaphorical centre of his world, with suites of rooms radiating out in straight lines to either side. The gardens would reflect those elsewhere in Europe, in Versailles and Holland with fountains, straight walks and avenues.
It was not uncommon to have paintings of these buildings hung inside the house, however it is unusual for it to be fixed as an over mantle and one not overtly fantastical like many Elizabethan and Jacobean representations of dwellings. It is quite possible that the house represented in this work would have been built or re-built in the Baroque style and much altered in subsequent years, so as to bear little resemblance in any later prints or engravings which makes the building itself virtually impossible to identify.
34-35 Church Street, Harwich, built circa1530-40.
The London North Eastern Railway to 1936; sold to:
Donald Saunders to 1977; sold to:
Allen and Betty Turner
The painting was discovered in 1981 in a first floor room, above a Victorian fireplace, nailed to the chimney breast, behind many layers of wallpaper, against an earlier Tudor fireplace.