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image SM 45/1/17

Reference number

SM 45/1/17


Design made for exhibition at the Royal Academy


1 Plan, drawn in a three-dimensional way with cast shadows


bar scale of 1/8 in to 1 ft


Rooms labelled: Lecture Room / and / Library, C Exhibition / of / Sculpture, B Exhibition of / Painting, A Exhibition of / Architecture, Librarian's Closet, Book-room, Water Closet, Keeper's Room, The Plaister Academy, The Living Academy, Vestibule , Treasurers / Office, Lobby (twice), Staircase leading to the / Secretary's Apartments &c and a key: (against Architecture Room) A When not used for the Exhibition / .... Academy for the Female figure / (against Painting Room) B Council Room / (against circular Sculpture Room) C Academy for the Students in / Architecture, dimensions given; title A Design for an Academy of Arts 1775 (inscribed later by G.Bailey, curator 1837-60)

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, pen, pink and sepia washes, shaded, pricked for transfer on laid paper with old patch (460 x 655)


Robert Baldwin ( fl. 1762-c.-1804)


fleur-de-lis within crowned cartouche with GR below and J Whatman


For another plan drawn in a similar way and also attributed to Robert Baldwin see (Soane's architectural education: Rough preliminary designs .. and design 'for a Mausoleum to the Memory of James King drowned June 9.1776' (drawing 14)

The stimulus for Soane's design arose from Government proposals for the re-building of Old Somerset House and thus for new quarters for the Royal Academy. Soane's square plan, designed on three axes with three sets of interconnecting rooms, allowed for dual use such as the Library/Lecture Room. A flexible use of the rooms was permitted by the short run (six weeks) of the annual exhibition. The plan shows the side walls as windowless - top lighting must have been envisaged. Inevitably, the question arises of whether Soane sought advice from George Dance. Soane's choice of scheme at the moment when William Chambers was chosen as architect for the new Somerset House was perhaps more than coincidence and may have relied on information from a Royal Academy insider such as Dance. Certainly the scheme would be of great interest to Dance and the practical, multi-purpose plan, use of top lighting and elements of the elevation such as roundels over alcoves could have come from him.

Soane exhibited at the Royal Academy 1776, No. 289 'The principal faςade and plan of a design for a Royal Academy'

Jill Lever


P. du Prey, John Soane’s architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.75-6; P. du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, pp.57-9



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).