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Variant preliminary designs: B, 2 July - 10 October 1800 (3)


Soane appears to have retained the idea of keeping the existing house foundations and the Dance wing even while he was experimenting with ideas for a completely new villa on the site. As drawings 74 to 76 show, he eventually abandoned the scheme for an entirely new villa in favour of the integrated concept. Drawing 74 is dated 2 July 1800 showing that Soane was contemplating the Pitzhanger scheme even before he had officially purchased the house and estate and whilst still producing drawings for a villa at Acton.

Drawings 74 to 76 are for variant decorative schemes based around largely similar elevations for the entrance front of a villa integrated with Dance's wing, on the old house's foundations. The main structure of the new villa consists of two storeys, attic and raised basement, divided into three bays by pilasters.

Drawing 74 has a Wyatt window either side of a door reduced in height from eleven feet to eight feet (the higher version can be seen partially erased underneath). The eye of the viewer is drawn upwards by the tall skyline feature (added in pencil) - a pedestal-like base framed by fluted incised pilasters and surmounted a scrolled acroterion crowned by an urn-pinnacle (the design of which is familiar to Soane's work, at various points, on Pitzhanger).

Drawing 75 shows a slightly simpler version of drawing 74 with side wings indicated. Additional urns are drawn in pencil above the cornice at the corners. The central skyline feature is now a much plainer rectangular pedestal and the height of the door corresponds to the higher 11 foot (partially erased) version of drawing 74, with a fanlight above that is more fully drawn out in drawing 76. The Wyatt windows have been discarded and the upper windows are shown as round headed; the right hand window is set higher that the others.

Drawing 76 shows some experimentation with similar themes. The upper windows are positioned higher than in the previous two designs (corresponding to the altered upper right window of drawing 75) and take on a much simpler rectangular design. Drawing 76 also includes a wall plan for the entrance front.



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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 Variant preliminary designs: B, 2 July - 10 October 1800 (3)