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Designs for finishings to the picture room, 6 November 1789 (2)


The circular room is shown with three entrances, in correspondence to designs for the second wing (drawing 54). Aside from these doors, the room is as shown in designs for the wing made in March 1789 (drawing 17).

The three doors and chimney-piece are distributed at opposing ends of the room and alternating with four round-headed recesses. A note on both drawings specifies that the architraves around the doors are to be 'finished straight', rather than following the curve of the wall. The recesses are surrounded with one-inch wood angle beads. A surbase moulding circles the room, rising two feet nine inches from the floor. A stile for hanging pictures, at the cornice, also circles the room. The flat-roofed lantern is circular in plan and measures approximately 20 feet in diameter.

Soane referred to the circular room as a 'tribune': he applies this name to double-height top-lit rooms surrounded by arcades, as in his designs for Pitzhanger, Ealing, 1800 (q.v.), or Tyringham Lodge, 1793 (q.v.). This circular room at Bentley Priory was apparently intended as a room for hanging pictures and displaying statues though there seems to be little space for pictures to hang; an issue raised by the client a week after this drawing was made (see drawing 64).



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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Designs for finishings to the picture room, 6 November 1789 (2)