- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
The drawing is one of many bound into a copy of Soane's unpublished 'Memoirs of the professional life of an architect between the years 1768 and 1835 written by himself' that was privately printed in 1835. (see Catalogue of Soane's library)
Soane's drawing for the print maker was to illustrate an episode in the relationship between the Bishop of Derry and himself. 'I shall now notice some architectural designs made for the Lord Bishop of Derry in 1778 and 1779, among which was one for a summer dining-room, to be added to his Lordship's mansion, the Downhill, in Ireland. The novelty and singularity of this composition, which was in imitation of one the rooms at Claremont in Surrey, executed from a design made by me during the time I was employed by the late Mr. Henry Holland, created much discussion among the young artists in Rome; and it was whispered that my design was a copy of another made by Mr. Henderson for the Bishop of Derry before my arrival. As I had never seen nor even heard of these drawings, I requested to have the two designs inspected. The proposition was acceded to: I named Mr. Brettingham, and Mr. Henderson named Mr. Hardwick, a pupil of Sir W. Chambers, as umpires. The referees met, and after examining the two plans, Mr. Hardwick observed, "He could not say they were exactly alike; yet he "considered them so much in the same character, that the one might gave given birth to the other." Mr. Brettingham replied, "I see no similarity in the plans. Mr. Soane's is a parallelogram, and quite original; Mr. Henderson's is an oval, without pretensions to any originality; in fact, Mr. Henderson's entire plan, with its columns and recesses, is to be found in many of the works of Palladio, Vignola, and others." Here the conference ended.
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).