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Reference number

SM 12/5/8

Purpose

Record drawing (made in 1809) of Soane's presentation elevation (made in 1777) of the river front, Royal Academy Gold Medal competition design of 1776

Aspect

20 Copy to the same scale of Soane's 'Elevation to the River' (see drawing 5)

Scale

1/15in to 1 ft

Inscribed

(within a tablet-like label) DESIGN FOR A TRIVMPHAL BRIDGE

Signed and dated

May 15th 1809 - 42 days

Medium and dimensions

Pen, blue, raw umber and sepia washes, shaded, within quadruple ruled and sepia wash border on wove paper, 2 sheets joined (646 x 2236)

Hand

James Adams Jr (pupil, 1806-9)

Watermark

James Whatman Turkey Mill Kent 1801

Notes

James Adams, junior (1785-1850) was a pupil in Soane's office, 1806-9. The office Day Book has entries from Thursday, 13 April to Monday, 15 May 1809 by Adams recording 'About drawing of Triumphal Bridge'. This added up to 28 days (pupils and assistants were not required to work on Sundays) and not 42 days as given by Adams on the drawing - though it may have seemed like it.

Unusually, this copy is fully rendered and made to the same scale as the original drawing (drawing 5). Generally, copies of earlier design or working drawings made by pupils in Soane's office were plainly drawn and washed and generally to a reduced scale. Made as part of their architectural training, such copying was a good technical exercise but was also done for convenience since such drawings were carefully pasted into albums or else bound into volumes. In Soane's time, these albums/volumes were shelved in the Library-Dining Room on the ground floor where they were kept as part of Soane's art and architecture library. Margaret Richardson has suggested (in conversation, 9 April 2008) that they may have been shown to potential clients by Soane as examples of his past designs. 'Record drawings' were identified as a type of drawing by Mrs Richardson in 1989 in a lecture given at the Architectural Association, London as part of a symposium on architectural drawings organised by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain. The Soane Museum has a considerable number and where the original drawings have not survived are particularly useful (see, for example: Soane's architectural education ... : Copies of a design for a nobleman's town house for the Royal Academy Schools Gold Medal, 1774.) They are not the same as copies of contract or working drawings made for client or builder and kept as unbound sheets or sometimes bound into volumes (for example, the four volumes of working drawings for the Bank of England). Essentially, record drawings were be used within the office as exemplars, patterns, models based on precedent. See, for example, SM volume 41, 'Precedents in Architecture', compiled by Soane himself between 1783 and 1788 and including specifications as well as record drawings.
The original drawing (the draughtsmanship attributed to Robert Baldwin and George Dance) was not completely finished; some of the alcoves, statues and roundels are lacking (see note to drawings 3-4, 5). A detail that bothered Adams was the iron railing which he lowered from Soane's 4 feet to the height of the column bases - presumably with permission. Adams used stronger washes so that his masonry appears to be Bath rather than Portland stone, the sky is more serene and boats have been added. The contrast in draughtsmanship demonstrates the difference in drawing style between 1777 and a generation later.

Level

Drawing

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).