Firebacks

IM series

  1. 1064

    dunsfold,_pound farm a.jpg
    1270 x 850 mm

    Description: A rectangular field with a central circle containing a fouled anchor, the rope gathered in eleven loops around it; in the top spandrels the initials HH, on the left, and IH, on the right; below the circle, the initials IM inset in a square; on each side, a strapwork Ionic pilaster formed of alternate hollow squares, with a pyramidal infill in low relief, and hollow circles; outside each pilaster, a crouching stylised humanoid figure, facing inwards, disgorging a fructed vine; above the figures two opposed volutes, forming part of the edging; above the central field, a semi-circular compartment containing a bird, its wings inverted, and three hollow diamond shapes irregularly arranged; the date above the bird; protruding from the edging above each pilaster is a small, inward-facing scroll. Three vertical plank lines can be discerned, one in front of the right-hand figure, one through the I of the initials IH, and one to the right of the second H of the initials HH. The whole design is in low relief.

    Notes: This is a reworking of a design seen on a fireback of 1608 (see Phoenix Firebacks no. 585) though intentionally stylised. The decorative elements have yet to be fully interpreted; on the 1608 version the figures are fauns, the vines disgorged from their mouths being related to the 'green man' tradition associated with woodland spirits and symbolising resurrection, the latter echoed by the bird which, on the earlier version is a phoenix. However, in the form in which they appear on both firebacks they may be purely decorative devices. By contrast, the cabled anchor is the badge of the Lord High Admiral but in 1633 the office was vacant. The initials IM indicate that this is an early work by a prolific fireback pattern-maker more usually associated with the eastern Weald.

    Inscription: 1633 / HH IH / IM

    Manufactured: in 1633 in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Pound Farm, Common Road, Dunsfold, Surrey, England.

    Citation: Wall, J. R. S., 20 May 1965, 'Wealden Fireback' [letter], Country Life, p. 1208.

  2. 81

    guildford_museum 06.jpg
    677 x 620 mm

    Description: Rectangular with two mirrored scrolls on top, a lion’s face between; bas-relief semi-circle edging (sides and bottom); central pilaster with vine scrolling, Corinthian capital, initials on the pedestal; on either side, an arched alcove, each with a halberdier in mid-17th century clothes, their feet pointing to the middle.

    Notes: Stylistically similar to the Lenard fireback, the initials also appear on other firebacks from Brede. All known examples of this fireback are poorly modelled and cast.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: IM

    Manufactured: in the early to mid 17th century probably at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Guildford Museum, Guildford, Surrey, England.

    Museum number: S.7108 (part of the Guildford Museum museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48

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

    Citation: Lloyd, N., 1925, 'Domestic Ironwork I', Architectural Review, 58, pp. 58-67.

  3. 408

    lewes,_sussex arch soc 042.jpg
    580 x 480 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; cavetto moulded edge all round; holes pierced in top corners; a fouled anchor with one fluke resting on the base, a scroll below each top corner, foliage above the text, which is above the anchor; the initials either side of the lower fluke.

    Notes: The inscription is a quotation from Psalms 139, v. 1: ‘Domine, probasti me et cognovisti me’ (Lord, thou hast searched me and known me).

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: PROBASTI / ME / I M 16 5[0?]

    Manufactured: in the mid 17th century possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Anne of Cleves House, Southover High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, England.

    Museum number: LH000.908 (part of the Sussex Archaeological Society museum group)

    Citation: Dawson, C., 1903, 'Sussex Iron Work and Pottery', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 46, pp. 1-54.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48

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

  4. 590

    richmond,_ham house 02.jpg
    685 x 558 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shape, semi-circular protrusions on top corners; cavetto-moulded edging; two mirrored scrolls inside arch; a phoenix in flames, its wings displayed and inverted.

    Notes: A variant bears the date, 1650, and the initials, IM; a loop normally at the top is absent.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Manufactured: in the mid 17th century possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Ham House, Richmond, Surrey, England.

    Museum number: NT/HAM/XX/300 (part of the National Trust museum group)

  5. 657

    rolvenden,_halden place.jpg
    890 x 725 mm

    Description: Rectangular with curved top corners; Arched rectangular extension on top; ovolo edging; mounted figure in 17th cent. armour riding down a dragon to the left and below, sword in hand; inscription across top and either side of horseman; date below left; initials below right.

    Notes: Probably a representation of St George and the Dragon, with political undertones, given the date. Cursius may be a mi-spelling of Marcus Curtius, who sacrificed himself for the good of Rome. Nil Desperandum - Despair not. Other firebacks also bear the initials, IM, which probably relate to the pattern maker, some with a similar style of lettering.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: CVRSIVS / NIL DESPERANDVM / 1650 / IM

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: in private hands, Rolvenden, Kent, England.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48

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

  6. 901

    unknown_42  laughing lion 787x700mm.jpg
    787 x 700 mm

    Description: Quasi-Arched rectangular shape with cyma reversa shoulders; ovolo edging; stylised lion passant guardant; crowned rose with leaf and stem on left, crowned fleur de lys on right, thistle with leaves above centre; three right-facing scrolls at base; down-facing scroll, with staple, on right side; date split between bottom corners; initials below date, bottom right.

    Notes: Blatantly Royalist in its symbolism, a variant is dated (perhaps less convincingly) 1649. Numeral style, initials, leaf depiction and the stapled scroll are typical features of firebacks made from patterns by the same maker. A later version of the same subject, but with a different shaped plate and without the fleur-de-lys, is also known (see 'Royalist series'). M. A. Lower writes of this design of fireback being cast at Waldron Furnace in Sussex (Lower, 1849, p.219).

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 41 / IM

    Manufactured: in 1641 possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: in private hands, Wandsworth, London, England.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48

    Citation: Lower, M. A., 1849, 'Iron Works of the County of Sussex', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 2, pp. 169-220 (esp. pp. 188-9).

  7. 750

    va_26.jpg
    445 x 440 mm

    Description: Arched rectangular shape; cavetto edging; crowned rose with symmetrical leaves; date split across top; initials split across bottom.

    Notes: The hooked ‘1’ and ‘IM’ suggests a common pattern-maker with other firebacks bearing those features.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 50 / I M

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London, England.

    Museum number: M.113-1953 (part of the Victoria & Albert Museum museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2012, 'Pre-Restoration Iron Firebacks', Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, 20, pp. 2-15

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48

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

  8. 763

    va_39.jpg
    800 x 710 mm

    Description: Quasi-Arched rectangular shape with cyma reversa shoulders; ovolo edging; stylised lion passant guardant; crowned rose with leaf and stem on left, crowned fleur de lys on right, thistle with leaves above centre; three right-facing scrolls at base; down-facing scroll, with staple, on right side; date split between bottom corners; initials below date, bottom right.

    Notes: Blatantly Royalist in its symbolism, a variant is dated (perhaps more convincingly) 1641. Numeral style, initials, leaf depiction and the stapled scroll are typical features of firebacks made from patterns by the same maker. A later version of the same subject, but with a different shaped plate and without the fleur-de-lys, is also known (see 'Royalist series'). M. A. Lower writes of this design of fireback being cast at Waldron Furnace in Sussex (Lower, 1849, p.219).

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 49 / IM

    Manufactured: in 1649 possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London, England.

    Museum number: 492.1901 (part of the Victoria & Albert Museum museum group)

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2007, 'A Godly chimney plate and other firebacks from Brede', Wealden Iron, 2nd ser., 27, pp. 18-26

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

    Citation: Lloyd, N., 1925, 'Domestic Ironwork I', Architectural Review, 58, pp. 58-67.

    Citation: Lower, M. A., 1849, 'Iron Works of the County of Sussex', Sussex Archaeological Collections, 2, pp. 169-220 (esp. pp. 188-9).

  9. 769

    va_45.jpg
    560 x 475 mm

    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 New Testament, Acts 28: 3. The distinctive shape of the ‘1’ in the date and the initials, ‘IM’, together with the ‘S’ scrolls, parallel such features in other firebacks linked with Brede furnace. 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

    Manufactured: in 1649 possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    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)

    Citation: Hamling, T., 2010, Decorating the 'Godly' Household (New Haven, Yale), pp. 251-2.

    Citation: Hamling, T., 2015, 'Seeing Salvation in the Domestic Hearth in Post-Reformation England' in J. Willis (ed.), Sin and Salvation in Reformation England (Farnham, Ashgate Publishing), 223-44.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48

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

  10. 895

    vero_beach, fl.jpg
    679 x 540 mm

    Description: Quasi-arched rectangular shape, semi-circular protrusions on top corners; cavetto-moulded edging looped at top; two mirrored scrolls inside arch; a phoenix in flames, its wings displayed and inverted; date, in two parts, in top corners; initials in bottom right corner.

    Notes: A variant lacks the date and the initials.

    Copies of this fireback are known.

    Inscription: 16 50 / IM

    Manufactured: in 1650 possibly at Brede furnace in the Weald area of England.

    Current location: 492, Old Dixie Highway, Vero Beach, Florida, United States of America.

    Citation: Hodgkinson, J. S., 2014, 'A Seventeenth-Century Sussex Woodcarver: The Evidence of Cast Ironwork', Regional Furniture, 28, pp. 39-48