Friday, December 18, 2020

The most beautiful mantel in the world

As so often happens with blogging, time gets away from you.  As time builds you think the next post has to be really spectacular to explain the absence. Well 6 months have passed but in Covid time that doesn't count as much, right?   This post has grown from an initial image because I start to research and before you know it the one picture post becomes a minor history lesson! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 
This all started when I saw the most beautiful mantel of all time (undebatable!) in an advertisement in House & Garden UK magazine (top image). If you don't subscribe you should, the Brits produce the only remaining reliably good, hard-copy magazines! I wasn't familiar with the London antique dealer Westland London but am so glad I know of them now from an advert in the magazine. 
The chimneypiece was salvaged from the ruins of Dalquharran Castle in Scotland.  Seen above, the castle was designed by, of all people, Robert Adam.  I'm not sure about you but castles like this are not what I associate with Adam but apparently he designed quite a few!  However, it appears the forbidding façade hid a delightfully neoclassic PURE ADAM interior.  Sadly that is all long gone. 
Above is the plan of the castle complex by Adam, designed around 1785 for his sister and her husband, Thomas Kennedy of Dunure.  It was completed in 1790 when the old castle was abandoned as a ruin.  Sadly enough this "new" castle was ruined itself in 1967 when the roof was removed to avoid local taxation.  Karma?
Above is the mantel before being removed from the tower library and below a stunning aerial shot of the castle today in ruins.  I imagine the library was located in the large tower as the curvature of the mantel is minimal. 
Westland states that the chimneypiece, designed by Robert Adam, was carved by the renowned Dutch stonemason Pieter Mathias van Gelder.  The central panel features 2 sphinx flanking a globe.  The endblocks feature classical lyres and husk swags above fern corbels. This is pure perfection to my eyes, all day long. 
A closeup of the panel below. 
While not designed by Adam sadly, I will share an antique mantel I picked up in Middleburg, Virginia, earlier this year and had installed in my living room. I had wanted a Georgian style mantel like this and love the old Pine - beautifully restored for me by David Clair.  I believe it dates to the 1920s or there abouts.  The honed Italian slate helps to bridge the gap between my overly small firebox and the size of the mantel -when in doubt go black! 
Images of the Dalquharran mantel from Westland London, while images of the castle come from Wikipedia. Naturally the image of my fireplace is from my trusty iphone