- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
Drawing 95 reveals part of the almshouse interior with the antechamber of the Mausoleum through the arch on the left. Curved timbers beyond the arch, indicate that the cupola of the antechamber was under construction at this date. It is recorded that William Rothwell, the plasterer on '1812 June 20 to lathing and pricking up the dome to the centre of the New Building'. Drawing 96 shows the lantern of the Mausoleum almost complete, with the amber glazing being installed though the pitched roof above the antechamber is still under construction. Underwood and Doyle were paid £46.3.8 as specialist manufacturers of metal sashes, supplying the amber glass for the lantern and William Watson was paid £373.3.2 as the glazier. The carpentry frame of the dome is visible between the rafters of the roof.
In drawing 98 the vaulted ceiling has now been plastered. This would have been completed by either William Rothwell or J. and J. Bayley. The drawing reveals the duct that would receive the steam pipes for the under-floor heating system under construction. In the background it seems that perhaps a fireplace opening is being built in the Gallery wall, located as it appears in the plans of drawings 33, 43, 49 and 51. Once the exterior building work was completed in September 1812, Messrs Bolton and Watts' steam-heating system was installed at a cost of £270. As a result the floor of the Gallery was not laid until early 1813. The heating system was not a success and led to the pipes leaking causing dry rot.
Early designs show pendentive domes supporting glazed lanterns over the gallery spaces (see drawings 20-21). However, drawing 98 reveals that flat angled ceilings were actually built beneath the lanterns. Blank lunettes were built into the ceiling to give more interest. The lantern skylights of the Gallery are also complete at this stage. The smith, Thomas Rysell is recorded as doing the 'ironwork for Lanthorn lights' on 20 July, fixed by 3 men on 30 July. Lanthorn is an archaic word for lantern. He was paid a total of £49.18.2.
In drawing 99, dated 29 July, the carpentry of the dome of the Mausoleum antechamber is complete but it has yet to be plastered. Richard Martyr and Son were also responsible for this, they are recorded as fitting 'spherical brackets to domes of Mausoleum'.
An enlarged version of drawing 93 was drawn by a pupil as an illustration for Soane's twelfth Royal Academy lecture from the second series about construction on 12 March 1815 (SM 15/2/10). It is an almost identical view of the west front under construction but drawn in greater detail and shows the Mausoleum lantern with the amber glass fitted. Another similar version of this particular view was also drawn for the lecture but shows an earlier stage of construction with the Mausoleum lantern unbuilt and the Gallery walls incomplete (SM 15/2/08).
The information about the tradesmen is from the building accounts, SM Bill Book G, folios 413-442.
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).