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Design, presentation drawing and working drawing for additions to the ante-library, April and November 1791 (3)


Soane added a western extension to the small Gibbs ante-library. The executed design has two additional bays, modelled on the pattern of fenestration in the existing library and with bowed ceilings. Drawings 10 to 12 are the only drawings for the ante-library and yet they show only one additional bay and a flat ceiling. It is unknown when the executed version was designed or built. Christopher Hussey argues that, judging by the room's 'more developed idiom of its decoration', the ante-room was built from c. 1806, when the 3rd Earl completed his term as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. David Adshead has found supportive evidence in subsequent accounts of the house. Soane's records, however, are not descriptive enough to suggest a date of construction. Adshead has found that Soane's Account book records that in May 1791 the decorator John Crace was paid for painting '14 large rich Pateras (sic) in Ante Library' as well as 'Bronzing 6 Plaster Vases'. The executed room has twenty-eight paterae and ten vases, perhaps indicating that in 1791 the ante-library was built as shown in drawings 10 and 11, with one additional bay, and the second bay was added later, c.1806.

Drawings 10 and 11 show variant designs for the segmental-arched partition between the old room and the new addition. Two alternative designs are included in finished form on the presentation drawing, probably having been presented to the client for his own deliberation.

Soane's Daybooks record that on 12 April 1791 he delivered a fair drawing for alterations to the ante library. The drawing had been made a day earlier by Thomas Chawner (drawing 11). Drawings of the room's finishings were sent in late June. The working drawing dated November 1791 (drawing 12) is for the room's joinery, detailing the bead mouldings that surround the room's doors, a characteristic detail in Soane's buildings.

The addition replaced part of the orangery to the west of the house. As David Adshead writes, previous inhabitants at Wimpole had considered expanding the ante-library into the orangery but they could not decide how to overcome the varied ceiling heights (Adshead, p.70). Soane solves this problem by raising the first floor (drawing 10).

The door at the west end led to the orangery, which was in 1809 converted to a conservatory by Humphrey Repton and later replaced in the 1840s by a design by H.E. Kendall (Stroud, p. 762).

Drawing 12 is a working drawing for hanging the doors in the library. Soane's Daybook records that he sent in the post to Mr Provis the same type of drawing on 24 November 1791; judging by the sheet's fold marks, it is likely that this is the same drawing.



If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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 Design, presentation drawing and working drawing for additions to the ante-library, April and November 1791 (3)