- The drawings from the office of Sir John Soane
The sketches made with pen in the left-hand side of drawing 5 shows Soane beginning to work out the decorative scheme including, as realised, the triple-fluted pilasters raised up on piers and the Greek-key entablature moulding from the Athenian Tower of the Winds, and, unrealised, a Vitruvian-scroll moulding at the rim of the central oculus. The rough sketches also show the idea in the left bay to lower the vaulting and flatten the roof (eventually realised), and in the right bay the idea (also realised) to make a more semicircular lower arch.
Drawing 6 is a preliminary column-flue design incorporating Soane's revisions from drawing 5 and, similarly he uses this drawing to continue working out the hall's decorative scheme. In pen Soane sketches motifs for various mouldings and identifies their sources in the marginal inscriptions. Though few of the decorative ideas explored here were actually used in the built hall (the principle exception being the Greek-key frieze), the drawing nevertheless very significantly shows Soane's desire to blend motifs already present in Taylor's Bank with some of his own favourite sources from Greek and Roman architecture. In all cases, lightness and elegance are emphasized for the low-profile plaster decoration, as is an insistent horizontality that balances the composition's verticality.
The key refers to important features. A is for the fascia at the springing of the lower arches, a copy of the wave-scroll moulding from the adjacent vestibule to the Bank's east wing built by Taylor in 1765-68 (not realised in the built design). B is for the frieze running through the level of the pilaster caps, a variation of the fret moulding from the first-century Athenian Tower of the Winds (mis-called a Temple here) that Soane greatly admired (realised). C is for the four arch soffits, a vine moulding derived from plates 51 and 23 of Robert Wood's The Ruins of Palmyra (1753) another much admired source (not realised). D is for around the oculus beneath the lantern, a fret moulding as in Taylor's Bank Governor's Waiting Room (not realised). E is for the lantern cornice's modillions derived again from Wood's Palmyra, here plates 15 and 19 (not realised).
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).