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image Image 1 for SM (5) volume 74/17 (6) volume 74/15
image Image 2 for SM (5) volume 74/17 (6) volume 74/15
  • image Image 1 for SM (5) volume 74/17 (6) volume 74/15
  • image Image 2 for SM (5) volume 74/17 (6) volume 74/15

Reference number

SM (5) volume 74/17 (6) volume 74/15

Purpose

Preliminary column-flue design with studies in Soane's hand, one dated 21 January 1792 (2)

Aspect

5 Longitudinal section looking west with ornamental studies and (verso) sketch plan for oval vaulting in Soane's hand 6 Longitudinal section looking west, with details and (verso) Y-shaped plan showing the three fireplaces connected to the central column-flue

Scale

(5) to a scale (6) scale of ¼ inch to 1 foot

Inscribed

5 Place this window / flush with the / outside, See Temple of the Winds, dimensions given and (verso) Section of the Bank Stock Office, (pencil) dimensions given 6 The Bank of England, Design for the Bank Stock Office, (clockwise from the upper-right) As in the Governors Waitg Room / making the flutes / broad, make the flutes / very shallow not more / than one inch in deepest parts, Line the Walls with stone rust: / to the first fascia, let the fret be cut in the solid, a key A. The same as used in the Vestibule / B. The Temple of the Winds with / Variations / C. Pal. p. 51 and pl. 25 / D. / E. Pal. pl. 15 fret & pl. 19 fret, I wish the / column to / be only 3 feet: diam: & to range with / the fascia D, Raise Column, Plaistering, Plaister Cornice like that in / unclaimed dividend office, The large flutes as in the Vestibule, dimensions given and (verso) Query Tube of Copper or Iron & / Iron Pillar in Cent / Perhaps the Tubes to wind / instead of being - - - - - - [illegible], dimensions given

Signed and dated

  • (5) (verso) Jany 21 1792 (6) datable to January 1792

Medium and dimensions

(5-6) Pen, pencil, pale red ink and sepia wash on wove paper with three fold marks (509 x 638, 517 x 648)

Hand

Soane office

Notes

Drawing 5 closely follows the last triple-lanern drawing (drawing 3), keeping the central stove and column-flue, the rectangular fenestration in the central lantern, and the pilasters running down to the floor; while incorporating Soane's important sketched amendment in drawing 3 to cover the end-bay lanterns, replacing them with clerestory thermal windows, and also eliminating the round-headed niches in the wall and making the column-flue more Tuscan than Doric. The sketch plan on the verso shows Soane experimenting with oval vaulting in the hall's end bays, having not yet settled on the eventually realised cross-vaults.
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).

Literature

(6) D. Abramson, Building the Bank of England: money, architecture, society 1694-1942, 2005, p. 111; E. Schumann-Bacia, John Soane and the Bank of England, 1991, pp. 52-53, ill. 38; J. Summerson, 'The evolution of Soane's Bank Stock Office in the Bank of England', The unromantic castle, 1990, pp. 151 & 153-154, ill. 130

Level

Drawing

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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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