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image Image 1 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
image Image 2 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
image Image 3 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
image Image 4 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
image Image 5 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
  • image Image 1 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
  • image Image 2 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
  • image Image 3 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
  • image Image 4 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18
  • image Image 5 for SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18

Reference number

SM (9) 63/7/19 (10) 63/7/17 (11) 63/7/16 (12) 63/7/18

Purpose

Stage III: approach to the vault (4)

Aspect

9 Frontal perspective from the south showing the domed canopy with aedicule, on a pedestal as before but with the addition of a tablet with a skeleton figure holding an arrow (Death); the aedicule now resting on a broad, low plinth. The vault with its gated, semicircular arched entrance with a serpent carved on each spandrel is fronted by a sunken area apparently with steps; the flanking walls stopped by four antefixes with anthemion ornament. Verso: pencil trace lines for a perspective and rough details for ? pedimental caps to piers 10 Perspective from north-west with a carved, standing figure at the entrance to the vault. The sky suggests sunset and like drawings 9, 11-12, the tomb is set among (fictitious) trees 11 Perspective from the north-west with a background that includes a pyramidal mausoleum, a stormy sky and wind-tossed trees 12 Perspective from north-west in a setting with trees. Verso: small pencil perspective

Scale

(9-12) to differing scales

Inscribed

9 This view when correctly drawn intirely hides the / dome - as will also any possible front view

Medium and dimensions

(9) Pencil, raw umber, green, light blue and sepia washes, shaded, some watercolour technique (verso) pencil on laid paper (491 x 372) (10) pencil, raw umber, raw sienna, green, pink, mauve and sepia washes, shaded, watercolour technique on laid paper (483 x 393) (11) pencil, grey, green, raw umber, sepia, white highlights, watercolour technique, pricked for transfer on laid paper (306 x 412) (12) pencil, raw umber, grey, light blue, green and sepia washes, watercolour technique, pricked for transfer on laid paper (447 x 386)

Hand

(9) ? Parke (using a similar palette as Basevi) with corrections by Basevi, (10-11) George Basevi (1794-1845, pupil 1810-16) (12) ? Henry Parke (1790-1835, pupil 1814-20)

Watermark

(9) fleur-de-lis within crowned cartouche and PS below (10-12) Phipps & Son 1809 (12) 7 high / 5 wide

Notes

An entrance to the vault implies not just the gated opening of drawing 9 but also some method of entering the vault from ground level. Drawing 13, which follows, shows a drop of 4 feet 6 inches. Drawing 9 shows a threshold but not steps, while drawing 11 may show a threshold or a top step. Again, drawing 32, dated 23 May 1816 and made for the engraver, is without a stair.
None of the other drawings show anything more than what may be read as a threshold or possibly a top step. Except, that is, for the small plan on drawing 47 (attributed to J. M. Gandy) which shows twelve steps, as does the published plan for which the it was made (J. Soane, Designs for public and private buildings, 1828, plate 54). In fact, since the sunken area is externally no more than four feet wide and nine feet long, it is difficult to know how a stair could be fitted in that would allow for the dignified transition of a coffin from the hearse to the vault.

At the present time, the vault is fronted by a rectangular pit without stairs except for two carved out of the west front of the base upon which the monument sits; the vault itself is sealed with stone slabs and there is no gated entrance to the vault such as that shown here.
Summerson (op.cit. above) wrote that beyond the entrance 'is a sunken area, a pit, where one would expect to find steps leading down to the vault. But there are no steps and probably never were. The entrance to the gate is, and probably always was, walled up. There is not even a symbolic door.' Bowdler and Woodward (op.cit. above) writing later describe the construction of a flight of steps to the vault as ' Pharaonic in mood' and 'unique'. Unique because 'the standard method of entering a vault ... was to burrow down at one end of the tomb and insert a coffin through this narrow trench.'

Literature

J. Summerson, 'Sir John Soane and the furniture of death', p. 136, The Unromantic castle and other essays, 1990; R. Bowlder and C. Woodward, '"An Ornamental Structure and Very Likely to be Damaged ": Sir John Soane's tomb in St Pancras Gardens, London', p.253, Architectural History, 42, 1999

Level

Drawing

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