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image Image 1 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
image Image 2 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
image Image 3 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
image Image 4 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
image Image 5 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
image Image 6 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
  • image Image 1 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
  • image Image 2 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
  • image Image 3 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
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  • image Image 5 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)
  • image Image 6 for SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)

Reference number

SM volume 42/184, 42/182, 42/183 rectos and versos (dismounted)

Purpose

Alternative rough designs, and letter with further alternative rough designs sent by Soane to Thomas Pitt from Milan, August 1779 (3)

Aspect

1 (recto) Plan of building and fountains, elevation showing alternative designs for dome and portico, corresponding section, (pencil, rubbed) alternative elevation. Labelled No 2 / At the same, supposing there to be no absolute necessity for the introducing of Rocks &c / In this design the / temples are omitt'd / being doubtful of being / at Liberty to treat the / subject as an / Antique Edifice and b b Reservoirs arch'd over / & paved level with the / Portico, less three steps and Fountains not shewn in the Elevation to keep / the Architecture entire and Reservoir / 120:0 [feet], Hydraulic, Turncock, Keeper, Secret[ary], Committee. (of the elevation and section) The Elevation presents two Ideas the one to cover / over the Great Reservoir, the other to leave it open / The section the same
1 (verso, left hand side) Plan and elevation for an alternative scheme set in a piazza, alternative thumbnail cruciform and triangular plans, labelled Water
1 (verso, right hand side) Part-plan and elevation for an alternative scheme. Plan labelled a Reservoir / b Apartments / for the Keepers / &c / c Committee Room / d Temples to the / 2 chief River Gods / e Fountain and A A A A (against 4 pedestals) On each of these / Pedestals a river God. And It will be (I believe) necessary to lower the Steps considerably. / The Reservoir will hold abt 15,000 Hogsheads of Water. Query / if that is any thing like the Quantity ? / I believe the Reservoir must be cover'd to prevent the water being / heated, in the last page is a design with it open / The fountains are marked in to shew their situation only, & are suppos'd / to be much unlike what would be introduced in the Fair designs
2 Letter (see below)
3 (recto) Half-plan and elevation. The plan labelled A. Reservoir domed over to prevent the water being heat'd by the Sun / B, C Rooms for the Keeper, Hydraulics &c / D, D Temple to the River Gods / E, E, E, E Reservoirs arch'd over immediately under the Paved Landing / Fountain abt. 55,000 Hogsheads of Water in the 5 Reservoirs - to be / kept continually running off. / This Idea might (pencil) ^ be applied to a Triangle if (pencil) it be thought [written over 2 words in pen and then erased - ? Mr Pitt], think it more eligible. Elevation labelled The fountains are only introduced / to shew their situations only & / are supposed to be much unlike / what would be used in the fair / design, at the same time, supposg / there to be no absolute necessity for / the introduction of Rich & (sic)
3 (verso) Half-plan, elevation, alternative elevation without dome and (pencil) part section. The plan labelled A The great reservoir / B Fountains / C Apartments for the Keepers & for the / Hydraulics / NB The Height of the water in the both designs is supposed to be about 18 Inches below / the level of the Landing before the Columns. First elevation labelled In this design the Temples are omitted as being doubtful of the propriety of the Idea. / The rooms for the Keeper are reduced to half the Number. Alternative elevation labelled This Elevation supposes the Reservoir to remain open, which I believe must not / be, as the water would then become warm, but if this sort of Elevn is preferred, / a dome or other ornament might be added to the Center to gain sufficient / height for the Section

Scale

1 (verso, right hand side) bar scale divided and numbered 1 to 15 with each subdivision equalling 1/9 inch

Inscribed

2 Milan Augst the [blank] 1779 / Dear Sir / I did myself the honor of writing to you from Rome, enclosing / a sketch of your house in London, which I hope you have recd, and that it / found you in a much stronger state of Body than you had when I left Naples. / I am flatter'd by the friendship you have honor'd me with, of not being / too intrusive by informing you of my Conduct. Mr Burdon, for whose / friendship I can never be sufficiently grateful having brought me with / him to Parma, I informed myself of the subject for the Premium / in Architecture ^to be given by the Royal Academy of this place in 1780 (May) / for which I wish to become a candidate if it meets with your approbation. / I have therefore taken the liberty of enclosing you two designs for "Un / Castello d'acqua decorato d'una pubblica fontana. Si domandano il Piano / l'Elevazione, e lo Spaccato d'un Serbatojo d'acque, che in grandissima / copia si supporranno in esso raccolte per comodo, ed ornamento d'una / Metropoli. La facciata adunque di questo edifizio sara posta nel fondo / d'una larga piazza, ed ornerassi con tutta la magnificenza di una / pubblica Fontana, che si vedra divisa in piu polle scaturire da Statue, / da Rupi, o da animali, come vorra la fantasia dell'Architetto, che / rappresentando qualche Favola, o qualche Istoria piu distinguersi / nell'invenzione. Si vuole ezandio un alloggia unito al Serbatojo / per gli Idraulici, e Custodi dell'Edificio." I must beg leave to request / your assistance to point out the most exceptionable parts & to inform / me if I have conceived it in any degree agreeable to the proposition /
(continued on the verso) if you should think my request unfair, I wish you to know that I then cease / to desire your Ideas on the subject, tho most sensible of the want of / your assistance. I must confess the subject is entirely new to me & that / I am very doubtful of the propriety of my Idea's respecting it. / I hope to have the honor of seeing you again before you leave Italy / but least I should not permit me to express my desire of hearing from / you at Florence, if it is convenient by the latter end of September. / I am afraid it is hurrying you, but I cannot think doing any thing / further till I know ^wether if it will meet with your favourable opinion. / Mr Burdon desires his Complimts & give me leave to trouble you / with best respect to Lord Tylney & Mr Pennington, & accept of my / hearty wishes for the perfect re-establishment of your health, / I have the honor to be, / With the greatest respect / your much oblidged h[um]ble Servt / J. Soan / I must trouble you to enclose me this letter / as the Sketches contain'd in it are the first / Ideas, of which time will not allow me to / take Copies, I have only to wish to have the / honor of hearing from you, at Florence, / a la Posta restante, which will determine / my future plan, & to express my hopes of not / breaking in too much on your repose.
2 as above
3 as above

Signed and dated

2 as above (J. Soan) and (August 1779)

Medium and dimensions

(1) Brown pen, pencil on entire sheet of laid secretary paper with four fold marks (224 x370); (2) brown pen on half-sheet of secretary paper with four fold marks (224 x 185); (3) brown and black pen, pencil on half-sheet of secretary paper with four fold marks (224 x 185)

Hand

Soane

Watermark

(1) part of IV, (2-3) IV (shared)

Notes

It seems that Soane's sketch designs and letters were sent to Thomas Pitt, nephew of the recently deceased Earl of Chatham. Pitt arrived in Rome, early in December 1778. He was an accomplished amateur architect and became a life-long friend to Soane. Both travelled to Naples in the winter of 1778 and there Pitt became ill and stayed for some months.
The first designs (drawing 1) experiment with two schemes. Scheme 1 is a single storey building with a shallow, stepped dome akin to the design for the so-called Chatham mausoleum but with an X-plan close to the one for James King's mausoleum (q.q.v). Scheme 2 (labelled No 2) has a stretched oval plan and the elevation and section have both a domical and a non-domical solution; a further (pencil) elevation has a dome and a tall arched entrance. Verso, there is a related variant design based on a stretched oval plan with a large uncovered reservoir enclosed by offices and colonnades.

The alternative designs (drawing 3) show simpler versions of the earlier designs. That is, a domed design on an X-plan in which the four tempietto proposed in scheme 1 are omitted and a reduced version of scheme 2 (No 2) offering a domed or a pedimented centre.

du Prey (op.cit. 1977; 1982) fully discusses these drawings.








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Literature

P. du Prey, John Soane’s architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.243-54; P. du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, pp.110-11, 177-84

Level

Drawing

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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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