- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
The solution to augment the visually weak corners with a Corinthian giant order appears to have been reached by Soane whilst the north façade was under construction. It appears that the pedestals for the columns had been built by March 1824, and that there was some difficulty in sourcing suitable stone for the monolithic shafts. Regrettably, the Day Book entries for early 1824 record scant entries specifically relating to the Law Courts, and no one hand can be ascribed to the surviving working drawings (SM 53/4/76-78).
The surviving drawings which record the completed façade’s intended appearance chiefly date from 1826, with the most arresting and competently realised elevations drawn by Charles Richardson in September (SM 53/8/17-18). The variant degree of ornamentation to the façade’s corners, its most elaborate including attic figures and a royal coat of arms, should be noted, as there is no evidence such an elaborate treatment was ever intended for the design as commenced (see SM 53/8/19).
What appears to be the most accurate record of Soane’s original intentions for the north façade are shown in two drawings prepared around 18 November 1826 by George Wightwick (SM 53/8/45-46). These are likely to have been prepared in conjunction with Wightwick acting as Soane’s amanuensis for the numerous manuscript drafts of his Brief Statement, and there refined penmanship and restrained, light colour washes are distinct amongst the related drawings.
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.
Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).