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You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  [64] Design for the altarpiece, St Peter's, Walworth, London, 12-14 July 1824, 14 January 1825
  • image Image 1 for SM 54/6/37
  • image Image 2 for SM 54/6/37
  • image Image 1 for SM 54/6/37
  • image Image 2 for SM 54/6/37

Reference number

SM 54/6/37


[64] Design for the altarpiece, St Peter's, Walworth, London, 12-14 July 1824, 14 January 1825


Elevation of the altarpiece resting on two steps. The compartmental altar rail composed of balusters. The three-bay altar is articulated by two engaged Corinthian columns and two Corinthian pilasters: the pilasters at the centre. Between the columns and pilasters there is a moulded panel in each bay. The architrave is surmounted by acroteri in the form of winged putti masks. The central bay is pedimented and this is also ornamented with putti masks


bar scale of 53/5 inches to 10 feet


St. Peters Church Walworth. / The whole of the Altarpiece to be / Painted and completely finished / agreeably to this design and to the / directions already given to the Painter / in the most complete and workmanlike / manner, the expense not to exceed / Fifty Pounds / James Hunt / A.A.A. To be Painted to represent / Sienna Marble / B.B.B. Veined Marble / Baluster Bronzed / Baluster Bronze / Baluster Bronze / Writing in Gold Letters / Writing in Gold Letters /Gilt

Signed and dated

  • 14 January 1825
    14th Janry 1825
  • 12-14 July 1824
    The Soane Office Day Book record Burchell working on designs for the altarpiece on these days

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, pen, coloured washes of brown, yellow ochre and Venetian red on wove paper (515 x 360)


Soane Office, draughtsman


Faint pencil sketch of the pediment of the altarpiece


This drawing seems to be acting as a contract between Soane and the contractor, Mr James Hunt, for constructing the altarpiece. The inscription records directions had already been given to the painter, it is not certain whether it is one and the same with James Hunt, but if there was a specific written record, it is not in the Soane collection. With the consecration date for St Peter's set for June 1825, this gave six months for the completion of the altarpiece.

The altarpiece was admired by critics. In 1826, Carlos gave further details of the finished work: the central inscription panel was for the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments), with the Creed (either the Apostolic or Nicene) and Paternoster (Lord's Prayer) on either side, Carlos also verified the use of faux Sienna and white veined marble. Interestingly, Carlos also noted a white marble dove with outstretched wings beneath the architrave with a golden irradiation. No representations of this motif are in the Soane drawings collections, but is visible in the drawing at the V&A (E.353.1916).where also the inclusion of the Decalogue is specifically referred ) which is inscribed: see parts at large / Bath Stone / Commandments in Gold Letters / Wood excepting the Tablet / Wood painted to imitate Wainscott, and the lower edge: Elevation of the Altar Piece and Balustrade'.


Carlos, 1896, p. 202
Du Prey. 1985, p. 77, cat. No. 248



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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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