Description: Rectangular; cavetto-moulded edge; a snake rises from a fire and bites the middle finger of the hand of a sleeved left arm that descends from a top right corner cloud; left and right, ‘S’ scrolls appear strapped to the edge of the fireback; the date, top left of centre; initials, bottom right corner.
Notes: An illustration of the New Testament episode (Acts 28: 3) when St Paul, shipwrecked in the island of Malta, was putting sticks on a fire and a viper bit him. The distinctive shape of the ‘1’ in the date and the initials, ‘IM’, together with the ‘S’ scrolls, parallel such features in other firebacks. The design is an adaptation of an illustration in 'Devises Heroiques' by Claudius Paradin (1557) which was translated into English by Geoffrey Whitney as 'The Book of Emblemes' (1586).
Copies of this fireback are known.
Inscription: 1649 / IM
Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London, England.
Museum number: M.119-1984 (part of the Victoria & Albert Museum museum group)