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image SM volume 42/172 verso

Reference number

SM volume 42/172 verso


Rough domed designs on a trefoil plan by George Dance, before 18 March 1778


1 Sketch plan consisting of a circle on a square with apses on three sides and a portico in antis on the fourth side all on a trefoil terrace and with four pyramids placed at the intersections of the trefoil-shaped terrace; trefoil within a trefoil plan; part plan with semicircular elements (together with three other rough, unrelated plans); two rough, related elevations - one with a pyramidal composition; and a section


(inscribed by Dance) Phoenix ( as a dome finial, associated with resurrection and found in funerary sculpture) and Sepulchral Urns (for the terraces)

Signed and dated

  • datable to before 18 March 1778

Medium and dimensions

Brown pen on laid secretary paper, worn, with three fold marks (389 x 269 on half of the sheet )


George Dance (1741-1825)


dove on monti, C and I within a roundel


The first mentioned plan is clearly the antecedent of the later plan seen in drawing 13. The drawing on the recto of this sheet (42/172) is a sketch design by Dance for a British Senate House (q.v.) made before Soane's departure to Italy on 18 March 1778. It must be presumed that Dance's design for a mausoleum on a trefoil plan on the verso of this sheet was also made before 18 March 1778 and thus two months before the Earl of Chatham's death. Soane had a strong interest in the design of mausolea and may have that building type in mind as a subject for a design to be sent back to London for exhibition at the Royal Academy. Thus it seems that Dance's sketch designs were generalised without any particular person in mind. There is something puzzling here which is that the drawings were made on Italian-made paper.As a very young man, Dance made a design for a garden temple on a trefoil plan see J.Lever, Catalogue of the drawings of George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) ... from the collection of Sir John Soane's Museum, 2003, catalogue [3] In the first rough designs, the more complex plan of No.1 is (du Prey, op.cit) 'almost a direct copy of the 'Petite Eglise Ou Rotonde' engraved in Marie-Joseph Peyre's Oeuvres d'architecture, Paris, 1765.


P. du Prey, John Soane’s architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.134-6



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.

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