Huntington Art Gallery: Chimneypiece


This is one of a suite of five silent videos that focus on an object or architectural element on view in the first-floor period rooms of the Huntington Art Gallery. In elegant houses, the chimneypiece served as a room’s decorative focal point and was often carved with fashionable ornament. The carving on this example celebrates wine and the revelry that accompanies its consumption. Heads of satyrs, from whose mouths issue garlands of fruit, appear on the jambs while wine vessels and swags of grapevines flank the central panel, which shows a procession of young bacchanalian figures, one of whom pours wine down the mouth of a goat. The Huntington chimneypiece originates from the Georgian house at No. 17 Hanover Square, London, which served, from 1781, as the home of Dorothea Jordan (1761–1816), a famous actress and mistress of the future King William IV, while he was Duke of Clarence. In 1863, the house became the quarters of The Arts Club, whose members included Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. The club moved in 1896, and the house was demolished.

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