Made by George Brookshaw, English, 1751 - 1823. Painted panels after Angelica Kauffman, Swiss, 1741 - 1807.
This chimneypiece comes from Piercefield Park, a once-elegant country estate in Monmouthshire, Wales, which now lies in ruins. Cabinetmaker George Brookshaw specialized in painted furniture and, as seen here, often relied on the compositions of artist Angelica Kauffmann for his figural scenes. The subjects depicted in the frieze are, from left to right: the allegory of the swans of Lethe, from Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando furioso (1516); Orpheus and Eurydice, from classical mythology; and Una and the lion, from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1596). These scenes suggest the theme of disappointed love, an iconographic scheme that would have been understood by the educated elite of the late eighteenth century.
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