with a carved foliate frieze above a dentilled cornice, the central panel with fruitwood inlay depicting a landscape with trees entwined with foliage including pears, roses, acorns with other fruits and flowers around a fox below a sunburst centred by a face in profile, the scene surmounted by a burr elm inset section inlaid with words and date, 'LABOR 1627 ORA' and with branded initials 'E.T', the inlaid panel flanked by herms and stylised palmettes and bordered by carved Composite fluted pilasters, the jambs with conforming carved Ionic fluted pilasters
The finely inlaid central panel with the motto 'Labor' and 'Ora' or work and pray has an appropriate moral tone for the period in which this lot was created. The scene below these words depicting the sun in splendour and a bountifully laden tree would seem to imply that through work and prayer man, in this case a fox, will benefit from nature's munificence.
This piece has been concieved with a sense of the architectural 'laws' written about by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) and widely disseminated across Europe through the publication of his four books on architecture (1570). The influence and re-examination of classical architecture at the time is evidenced in this lot through the use of the classical orders in a specific sequence. In the lower section, the fire surround, there are bold fluted Ionic pilasters. In the upper section, the overmantel, there are fluted Composite pilasters.
For another fine carved and inlaid oak overmantel see The Oak and Country Sale, Sotheby's Olympia, 27th April 2004, lot 49. The inlaid architectural panels in the upper section of this lot were very fine and could possibly be attributed to German craftsmen working in the Southwark area of London. It would be interesting to establish if there was a connection between this school of craftsmen and the offered lot.
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