One of the least understood and most tragic figures of the Victorian design reform movement, Jeckyll was an important designer of both public and private buildings. He was born in Norwich, where he began his career as a Gothic Revival architect, designing rectories and schools, and restoring churches. After he moved to London he
maintained his East-Anglian connection through an eighteen-year association with the Norwich iron foundry Barnard, Bishop and Barnard, beginning in 1859. The ‘epoch-making’ designs he made for the firm brought him great renown and he particularly excelled in the Anglo-Japanese designs for stoves, stove fronts, fenders, fire irons, and other domestic metalwork that were produced and sold in large numbers.
A very similar model appears in period photographs adorning the chimneypiece of the famous Peacock Room at 49 Prince’s Gate, London. This extraordinary interior from 1876 is now installed at the Freer Gallery, Washington. The room was commissioned by ship owner Frederick Leyland, designed by Jeckyll and later decorated by Whistler. The semi-circle motif used here by Jeckyll was echoed throughout the interior in Whistler’s decorative scheme but denote peacock feathers rather than these stylised suns.
See also Linda Merrill, The Peacock Room: A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London: 1998, pp.189-90, fig. 5.1 (illustration of how the dining room might have appeared with Jeckyll’s original decoration including a fender like the present lot), and pp. 254-55, fig. 6.14-15 (for further period photographs of the Peacock Room with a 'Sunray' fender).