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Design for finishings to the drawing room walls, as executed, May 1792


On 6 June 1792 Thomas Chawner delivered to Lady Hardwicke fair drawings 'shewing the Manner of hanging the Silk & ornaments' in the drawing room (Daybook 1792). Drawing 23 was made a month earlier but it shows the executed design for the room's grisaille overdoors and silk wall hangings. The walls have large ochre-coloured panels between vertical bands decorated with arabesque (or grotesque) motifs and on Prussian blue backgrounds. The whole is edged by a narrow cobalt blue border.

David Adshead suggests that the strong colours and antique scheme were inspired by the Roman Villa Negroni frescoes, a villa excavated in Rome in June 1777 that Soane and Lord Hardwicke knew from their travels through Italy (D. Adshead, p. 76). The design on drawing 23 was executed, though the silk fabrics have since been replaced.



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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 Design for finishings to the drawing room walls, as executed, May 1792