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Presentation and preliminary drawings of the library by J.M. Gandy (4)


A letter from Gandy to Soane, dated 29 January 1803 refers to his preliminary perspective (drawing 30), with a description of the room's contents and a request for Soane's opionion on the composition. Gandy's finished perspective (drawing 33) was therefore completed after 29 January 1803. 'Would you object to having on the left hand of the drawing (in order to hide some distorted parts of the perspective) a yard and an unfurled sail hanging instead of a curtain, against which might rest some flags of triumph, taken from the French by my Ld Bridport, of which perhaps you can have som drawings, with a Map of Gibraltar streights and bay, a seaman's quadrant, compasses and telescope, forming altogether a naval trophy. The room to have a few chairs whose backs are tridents, and two large globes, terrestrial and celestial, somewhat after the manner of the sketch. This sketch may be considerably improved by removing the point of sight, so as to make altogether the proportion extend to the line A, in that case bringing to view more of the great window. // I remember you showed me a sketch of the landscape, which appeared through the windows of a section. I shall want the landscape only. // The part marked B- is in the seciton I have marked with a query, perhaps charts or maps would answer on the fronts of those spaces, and so change the repetition of bookcases on this side of the picture: all this is submitted. // More of the ceiling and less of the floor it is presumed will improve the sketch. // I have no idea of the chimney piece nor the space over it, or of the colour of the wall of the room, waiting your answer, // I am, Sir, your faithfull and obliged Servant, // Joseph Gandy.'

The library at Cricket Lodge is a room on a three-part plan, consisting of a centre between apsidal ends, with a northern projecting bay. Drawings 30 to 33 show the interior, with bookcases lining the room and large windows in the far apsidal end and in the north bay. The T-shaped room is set within existing walls of the house and facing the north front. The proposed design (drawings 30 to 33) has a flat ceiling at its centre, raised on a circular ring of fluting and supported by four segmental arches springing from the corners of the room. Drawing 31 shows a fret motif encircling the ceiling; drawings 30, 32 and 33 show a large rosette at its centre. The floor of the square space is decorated as a reflection of the ceiling ornament, though this is omitted in drawing 33. The two apsidal ends are shallow domes and have ceilings with fret motifs. The rectangular recess on the third side is covered with a segmental vault. Drawings 30 and 32 show a seated figure at the far corner of the room. Two globes, at the corners of the room, are shown in each perspective. Drawing 32 includes a bust of Viscount Bridport in one of the niches over the bookcase. The busts, chimney-pieces and soffit ornament are added in pencil to drawing 33.

Drawings 31 and 33 are preliminary drawings for drawing 32, with drawing 31 showing in pencil the setting-out lines for the perspective. Drawing 32 is more finished, with colour limited to where light is shed through one window. In the other window, beyond the seated figure, the sea (with a ship) is visible. The globes in the corners of the room have legs bounded with snakes, resembling a caduceus ornament. The caduceus is the emblem of the messenger in ancient Greece (Hall, p.55) and symbolises protection for merchants and traders. Also a nautical reference is the back of the chair, which is composed of dolphins supporting a trident. The trident is the attribute of Neptune (Hall, p.309). Around the edges of the room, above the bookshelves, are laurel wreaths. In drawing 31 the wreaths surround various busts. Other decorative features within the room, as shown in drawings 31 and 32, are the wreathed eagles on each pendentive. In drawing 31, Gandy has also included a draped flag on the left-hand side of the sheet. Bridport commanded the Channel Fleet against the French from 1797 until he retired in 1800, at the age of 73.


A.T. Bolton, The Portrait of Sir John Soane, R.A., 1927, p. 124; J. Hall, Subjects & symbols in art, 1992, pp. 55, 309; G. Darley, John Soane: an accidental Romantic, 1999, pp.117-120, pp. 79-80.



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Contents of Presentation and preliminary drawings of the library by J.M. Gandy (4)