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Reference number

SM 12/5/1, 12/5/2, 12/5/3


Royal Academy Gold Medal competition design, November 1776 (3)


2 Plan of the Superstructure of a Design for a Triumphal Bridge November 4th 1776
3 Elevation of Entrance of a Design for a Triumphal Bridge
4 Section through the Center Building


(2) bar scale equivalent to 3/8 in to 10 ft (3) to a scale slightly larger than No.2 (4) to a scale larger than No.3


2-4 as above and (drawing 2) Front extends Eleven Hundred, Eighty Six Feet, This [entrance] front extends five hundred & twenty five feet, labelled including Col. Rostr.[ata] (3 times), Mars et Bellona / 100 feet diamr, Victoria / 110 feet by 100 feet, Pax et Concordia / 100 feet diamr (three principal rotundas), Fame, Minerva, Hercules, Fortune (four lesser rectangular enclosures, 35' by 37') ), Corridor (five times), Cortile / 214 Feet by 110 Feet (twice) and dimensions given

Signed and dated

  • (2) November 4th 1776

Medium and dimensions

Pen and light pink wash, pencil within double pen and black wash border; pen, light blue, sepia and raw umber washes, pencil, shaded within triple ruled and black wash border; pen, sepia, raw umber, pale pink and pale blue washes, pencil, shaded within single ruled border on 3 sheets of laid paper joined, stuck down on wove paper; on 2 sheets of laid paper joined and with old patch; on laid paper, cloth backed and with black tape edging (662 x 1251, 470 x 1375, 610 x 861)


(2) Soane (title inscribed by Baldwin), (3-4) Robert Baldwin ( fl.1762-c. 1804) and George Dance (1741-1825)


n/a; Whatman and J Whatman; J Whatman


Soane submitted his entry early in November 1776 and with his five-hour sketch design for the entrance to a church (q.v.) he won the Gold Medal of the Royal Academy, presented to him on or about 10 December 1776. The draughtsmanship of these three drawings is the work of more than one hand - not unusual with competition designs. The plan may be attributed to Soane, its pallid rendering with diluted ink and light pink wash on such a large-sized sheet gives a weak effect. The labelling is by him though the inscribed title is by another hand. Clearly Soane had help with the subsequent drawings (Nos 3-5) for they are large, elaborately rendered and beyond his level of draughtsmanship. He may have done some of the line drawing while, for example, the rendering of blue sky with clouds, and the accurate shading and careful brushwork that define the character of the rusticated masonry were done by another hand. This would have involved some weeks of work and Dance would not have had the time but a fine draughtsman known to both Dance and Soane was Robert Baldwin (fl.1762- c.1804). Between 1768 and 1769 he made a number of drawings for Newgate Gaol (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 [32].1-10). Baldwin would have been known to Soane from when he began his employment with Dance in 1768 and, 'in later life [Baldwin] was in receipt of charity from Sir John Soane' (H.Colvin, Biographical dictionary of British and Irish architects 1600-1840, 3rd ed., 1995).A comparison of Baldwin's elevation for Newgate Gaol (Lever, op.cit. [32].10, SM D4/4/9) with the elevations for the triumphal bridge shows the same rendering and shading of, for example, the strongly characterised rusticated masonry of both designs, the sky is rendered in a similar way and the palette of watercolour washes is similar. A comparison of the formal, cursively inscribed titles of the Newgate Gaol drawings though less florid than those for the Bridge of Triumph seems to confirm the attribution. A drawing made by Robert Baldwin inscribed 'Saint Stephens Walbrook' (SM volume 9/7) and presented to Soane, has the same handwriting and on the verso, is written 'R.Baldwin's respects to Mr Soan ... No 4 W[h]itcomb Court Haymarket' (between Whitcomb Street and Oxenden Street and listed in W.Stow, Remarks on London ..., 1722). Soane added the 'e' to his name towards the end of 1783 (D.Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect, 1996, p.54) so the lack of it implies that the gift was made before that date.Some, at least, of the sculpted elements (figures, bas-reliefs and trophies) of the elevation were drawn by Dance. For while Soane's figures, seen on other of his drawings, are attenuated and inexpressive, Dance individualized his figures, making them lively and even joyous. The same is true of the section where the winged figures that crown the dome are confidently and accurately drawn.
The design of the superstructure (more clearly understood in the following drawing) is generally thought to have been influenced by published sources and in particular, M.-J. Peyre's Oeuvres d'architecture, 1765, plate 4. Since George Dance may have had some influence on the design for the Triumphal Bridge, it may be noted that the book is not among those listed in the sale catalogue of his library. (Sale catalogues of libraries of eminent persons, volume 4, Architects edited by D.J.Watkin, 1972, pp.193-216). But he may have given it away during his liftetime and, for example, William Chambers had a copy which Soane may have seen.



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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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