Lady Lever Art Gallery – Artwork of the Month – November, 2006
‘Marble Mantelpiece’, by Moor Park
About the artwork
In the 1920s Lord Leverhulme bought a country house as an investment. The house was Moor Park in Hertfordshire. Lever removed this chimneypiece, an act that would now be considered the worst form of vandalism. This was quite normal at that time when many country houses were being demolished altogether.
At Moor Park, there was a story about the chimneypiece. Apparently the owner of the house, Sir Lawrence Dundas, had purchased it from a palace of the Borghese family in Italy. Dundas was a businessman who made a fortune out of contracts to supply the army during the Seven Years’ War between Britain and France. When the war ended in 1763, the Government made him a baronet and he looked around for a country house to make himself respectable. Lord Anson who owned Moor Park had just died with no children and the house was on the market, so Dundas bought it. Robert Adam was commissioned to design furniture for the drawing room. A 19th century book on the house says Dundas added ‘the magnificent white mantelpiece with draped female figures on each side; along the top is a row of figures of the dancing hours, relieved against a background of lapis lazuli.’
Free gallery talks on 17 and 24 November at 13.00 with Robin Emmerson, Head of Decorative Arts.