Among the group of objects at West Wycombe Park recently accepted in lieu of tax and allocated to the National Trust are four handsome pedestals in the Music Room inlaid with Siena marble and Sicilian jasper.
They are by the sculptor Henry Cheere (1703-1781), and one of the reasons for keeping them at West Wycombe is the fact that there are several other works attributed to Cheere in the same room.
The chimneypiece is most probably by the Cheere workshop as well, as are the doorcases. In decorating this room Sir Francis Dashwood, 2nd Baronet, was mixing original classical works of art with modern works in a classical style to remind him of what he had seen on the Grand Tour.
The chimneypiece is made of carved white statuary marble against a Sicilian jasper background, and its frieze depicts Venus and Cupid attended by putti.
The theme is continued on the ceiling, where Giuseppe Borgnis (1701-1761) was employed to depict a banquet of the gods, copied from Raphael’s work in the Villa Farnesina in Rome.
The decoration in the coving was copied by Borgnis from various frescoes by Annibale Carracci in the Palazzo Farnese.
Interestingly, celebrity meerkat Aleksandr Orlov lives in a mansion with some very similar interiors…