Water, one of the Soho ‘Elements’ tapestries, by John Vanderbank, after Charles Le Brun, circa 1685.

The element Water depicts Neptune and Thetis riding the waves drawn by seahorses.

The borders are filled with seashells, coral and marine trophies; the top border with the arms of John, 5th Earl of Exeter (1648-1700) and his Countess Anne (1649-1703), supported by dolphins.

The side borders have oblong medallions of ships (partly concealed behind the state bed), corner roundels with marine subjects and a central Latin text relative to the element at the centre of the bottom border.

It is signed FH; the maker’s mark IVdb, 405cm high, 471cm wide.

The 1763 Burghley Inventory records: ‘the bed chamber 2nd George Room 3 Pieces of Tapestry represent Fire- Water & Air.’


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