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Reference number

SM (10) 13/1/20 (11) 13/1/21 (12) 13/1/22

Purpose

Competition design for a men's prison, by George Dance, 1781 (3)

Aspect

10 Elevation next the Road for a Design for a Penitentiary House to contain six hundred Male Convicts 11 Elevation next the River Thames
12 Section from A to B marked on the Ground Plan

Scale

10-12 bar scale of 1/8 in to 1 ft with distinctive three dots above the marks of division

Inscribed

as above and, N0 4, N0 5 and N0 6 respectively

Signed and dated

(10-12) Mihi turpe relinqui est (it is shameful for me to be left behind) and 1781

Medium and dimensions

Pen and sepia washes, shaded, within triple ruled and wash border on laid paper, 3 sheets joined (616 x 2528), pen, sepia and pink washes, shaded, within triple ruled and wash border on laid paper (622 x 2540), pen and sepia washes, shaded within quadruple ruled and wash border on laid paper (606 x 3120)

Hand

George Dance (1741-1825)

Notes

These drawings are by George Dance: the bar scale with three dots over each mark of division is found on some of his earlier drawings (for example, D2/BK/2) the lettering with its florid capitals is in Dance's 'best' hand and the freehand rendering of the rusticated centre and the drawing of the festoon of chains is characteristic of Dance. And, for example, the pilaster-like buttresses of the screen wall are quite similar to the coupled pilasters of the screen wall of Dance's design for an unidentified country house c. 1771? (SM, S2/8/24, Lever, op.cit, catalogue [69].1). The three-part plan of Newgate Gaol can also be seen in the plan (drawing 13).
Some personal references include the variation on the festoon of shackles that Dance used for Newgate Gaol and the competition motto, used by Soane for one of his two competition entries for St Luke's Hospital (q.v.) but much earlier by Dance for his competition design for the Parma Academ, 1763 (J.Lever, Drawings of George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) ... from the Collection of Sir John Soane's Museum, 2003, catalogue 17]. As du Prey points out (op.cit, p.211) though there are no battlements, machicolations or portcullis the design conjures up a medieval castle.
These three drawings made by Dance (together with drawing 13) relate to drawing 2 in which the sketch plan, bird's eye view and elevation clearly give the form and layout of the final design. The three elevations by Dance seem to have always been among Soane's own drawings; a search through the inventory made by George Bailey, first curator of the Soane Museum, in 1837 reveals nothing relevant among the drawings in Dance's own drawing cabinet.

Literature

P.du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, chapter 10, 'The Competition for the first Howardian penitentiaries'

Level

Drawing

Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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).