Firebacks

In the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group

  1. 644

    rochester_01.jpg
    870 x 580 mm

    Description: Formerly arched rectangular, arch now missing; cavetto-moulded edging, invected on the inner edge; English royal Stuart shield, garter, crown (mainly missing), supporters and motto; date split either side of crown; monogram to right of unicorn supporter.

    Notes: The monogram probably identifies the pattern-maker, whose invected edging seems to be a distinctive style. From another fireback of the same design, complete with the arch, the height is approx 710mm.

    Inscription: 1638 / HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE / RN / DIEV ET MON DROIT

    Arms: English Stuart royal

    Manufactured: in 1638 in England.

    Current location: Six Poor Travellers House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A4328 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

  2. 646

    rochester_03.jpg
    450 x 560 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; fillet edging; bell-flower column repeated on each side; at bottom, central rectangular panel, fillet edged, enclosing outstretched wings; above, intertwined leaves in figure-of-eight, enclosing a crown at the top.

    Notes: This fireback incorporates features of the ‘Dutch’ style but within an English form.

    Manufactured: in the mid to late 17th century in England.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3484 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2010, British Cast-Iron Firebacks of the 16th to Mid-18th Centuries (Crawley, Hodgers Books).

  3. 647

    rochester_04.jpg
    390 x 630 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular central panel with hollow bead-on-fillet edging; pictorial scene of a female figure standing on a scallop shell on a ground, holding wind-blown drapery aloft; arched rectangular border with fillet edging; top centre, a scallop shell with descending tendrils and alternating flowers and scallop shells, and swirled leaves at the bottom; on top, mirrored serpents.

    Notes: The allegorical figure of Fortune; similar in many respects to other ‘Dutch’ style firebacks of the period. The theft in 1699 from a Thames-side warehouse of several firebacks, including '5 iron Chimney-Backs cast in the figure of Fortune standing naked on a Conchus in the Sea' may refer to this type (Post Boy 11-14 Nov. 1699).

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the early 18th century in England.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3490 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

  4. 648

    rochester_05.jpg
    368 x 558 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular central panel with arch and bead-on-fillet edging; pictorial representation of a parrot perched on a ring suspended by a ribbon from a bow, the bird is clutching an olive twig, other sprigs are below; arched rectangular border with arch and fillet edging; mirrored festoons of flowers and fruit suspended from roses, scrolled foliage at the bottom; on top, central scallop shell between descending dolphins.

    Notes: The parrot on the ring perch is a popular design on Dutch firebacks.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the mid to late 17th century in the Siegerland area of Germany.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3491 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

  5. 649

    rochester_06.jpg
    475 x 685 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular central panel with bead edging; pictorial scene of the young Bacchus, a cup and bunch of grapes in his hands, seated on a barrel, surrounded by grape vines and buches, the date below the barrel, initials below, left and right; arched rectangular border with fillet edging; undulating vine design all round; on top, indistinguishable shape between two seated figures.

    Notes: The seated figures on top suggest an English pastiche of the Dutch style of design.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 1701 / A [?] AL

    Manufactured: in 1701 in England.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3492 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

  6. 650

    rochester_07.jpg
    415 x >490 mm

    Description: Damaged; top missing; arched rectangular central panel with bead edging; with tassel at top; three nude female figures: on top, Juno/Hera with a peacock, to the left Venus/Aphrodite, the young cupid/Eros at her feet, to the right Minerva/Athena with spear and shield; border with fillet edging; two suspended festoons of fruit and leaves; date and monogram in rectangular panel below central panel; rectangular panel at the bottom, with the inscription, PALLAS VND VENVS.

    Notes: The three goddesses are those whose beauty was the subject of the Judgement of Paris. Examples of this fireback have been recast in England, the opportunity being taken to insert an English inscription in place of the customary date and pattern maker's monogram.

    Inscription: 16 NDW 97 / PALLAS VND VENVS

    Manufactured: in 1697 in the Siegerland area of Germany.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3493 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

  7. 653

    rochester_10.jpg
    615 x 563 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; cavetto-moulded edging; central, two handled, fluted vase with swirled, fruited vines issuing from the neck, and a bird on each side perched within the vines; out of the neck, a naïve human figure with arms outstretched, grasping vines on each side.

    Notes: The figure emerging from the vase has a symbolism which has yet to be explained.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the mid to late 17th century in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3496 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)

  8. 654

    rochester_11.jpg
    460 x 705 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular central panel with bead-and-pellet edging; S-scroll, two-handled, gadrooned vase with tulip stems, flowers and leaves; arched rectangular border with fillet edging and suspended flower bunches; along a rectangular bottom panel with fillet edging a symmetrical arrangement of swirled foliage; on top, two symmetrical, coiled serpents; narrow, curved shouldered side panels with beads in oval depressions.

    Notes: The presence of tulips suggest a Dutch origin for the pattern of this fireback, although the presence of several examples in England suggest that it was produced here rather than on the Continent.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the mid 17th century in England.

    Current location: Eastgate House, High Street, Rochester, Kent, England.

    Museum number: A3507 (part of the Rochester Guildhall Museum museum group)