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Preliminary design for the drawing room, datable to January 1791

Notes

The drawing room is on a keyhole plan. As noted on this drawing, a benefit of this design is that the room may be inserted easily within the existing house's fabric and with minimal disturbance to its occupants: 'every purpose of convenience & magnificence is attain'd without disturbing any of the material parts of the Building & further might be completed without incommoding the family'. The drawing shows the same form as in drawing 4. The room replaces a north-facing ante-room, a secondary staircase, and a courtyard-facing room of water closets. The facing doors at the north end of the room have been sunken in segmental recesses.

The lantern has been omitted in the cross section but in the longitudinal section it is shown raised on coffered pendentives and an inscription on the plan specifies an 'upright skylight' overhead.

A barrel vault covers the north arm of the room while the crossing at the south end is surrounded by four segmental arches springing from Corinthian pilasters. The drawing has three alternative designs for the room's coffering.

The drawing room is to be hung with pictures. The lantern is conducive to hanging pictures, providing more wall space and a desirable indirect light. Mirrors mounted across from the chimney-piece and on the south wall also help distribute light within the room.

This drawing is an early design, and is probably part of a set sent to the client on 3 January 1791. A similar drawing of the same design is at Wimpole, probably also having been included in this January set. Later drawings show a variant design for the room.

Soane originally proposed adding the drawing room to within a bowed projection at the centre of the north front, as indicated in feint pencil on drawing 4 and in a drawing held by the National Trust (D. Adshead, p.73).

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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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