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Early Nineteenth Century Sarcophagus in the Antique Manner


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About this piece

English, circa 1800 - 1810

Of tapering oval form, each side and end with a large-scale lions head mask within hanging ring; the upper and lower section ringed with a simple square section moulding. The surface retaining is original crusty stone-white painted finish. Now with a copper liner.

Provenance: Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing

Bought directly from Ealing Council, the Sarcophagus stood on the garden front at Pitshanger Manor from at least the late Nineteenth century (see Image 1). With the house changing ownership a number of times during the century, we are only able to surmise at the sarcophagus' origins; that said, Soane continued a long 'affair' with the building and the pleasure grounds.  

In 1795, John Haverfield Junior left the Royal Gardens at Kew and went into practice as a landscape designer, one of his clients being Sir John Soane, for whom he remodelled the gardens at Pitshanger Manor in Ealing from c.1801. Haverfield and Soane clearly worked closely on these Regency pleasure gardens and we see much of Soane's classical inspiration still. There remains a Grade II* listed triple arched bridge to the north of the (now replaced) serpentine lake, surfaced with knapped flints and stone fragments; the original Coadestone urns were removed in the early 20th century. Also in the same area of the gardens is a Portland stone bench with carved central mask, swags and scallops.   Both these are known to have been designed by Soane for the gardens.

The main element of Soane's redesigned park & gardens, was a capriccio of ancient ruins, these removed immediately by the General Cameron who bought the estate in 1810. Virginia Brilliant & Matilda Burn wrote the following description for the Soane Museum in 1998 / 2010:

 - The grounds are referred to by Soane as 'pleasure grounds' and the construction of the mock ruins in the estate grounds certainly had some function for the amusement of guests. In his new position of professional and social standing, it was very important to Soane that his house should advertise his status and intellectual qualities to friends and clients who visited. Therefore, although small in scale, Pitzhanger is made to convey a sense of grandeur to the viewer, particularly through its porticoed entrance, classical references and manipulation of scale both internally and externally.


H 61cm x W 81.5cm x D 201cm. 230kg
H 24" x W 32" x D 79". 507.06lb

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