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image Image 1 for SM (70) volume 42/171 (71) volume 42/177
image Image 2 for SM (70) volume 42/171 (71) volume 42/177
  • image Image 1 for SM (70) volume 42/171 (71) volume 42/177
  • image Image 2 for SM (70) volume 42/171 (71) volume 42/177

Reference number

SM (70) volume 42/171 (71) volume 42/177


Studies for lantern dome and cross-vaults scheme (2)


70 Rough upward perspectives 71 Rough upward perspectives and detail of pilaster capital with three flutes and a triple anthemion motif


(71) pl/ clk (twice, Principle Clerk)

Signed and dated

  • datable to 11 December 1791

Medium and dimensions

(70) Brown pen and pencil, hatching on laid secretary paper with three fold marks (321 x 201) (71) brown pen and pencil on laid secretary paper with three fold marks (201 x 321)


George Dance (1741-1825)


(70) crowned GR, and part of W (71) Britannia with spear, shield and olive branch in crowned roundel and a bell below, and part of W


The upper of the perspective studies on drawing 70 shows the hall's lantern dome and cross-vaulted end-bays as being all equal, and with a short, barrel-vaulted side-arm extending from below the lantern dome, as seen in drawing 68.
However, in the perspective in the middle of the drawing the lantern dome bay appears slightly wider than the cross-vaulted end-bays, different to the upper study and all of Dance's other studies datable to 11 December 1791 (drawings 60-68), where all three of the aisle's main bays are equal. And it brings the design closer to the hall as executed. (The pencil sketches along the left of this perspective showing a fourth domed bay might indicate another variation of the four-bay scheme, with a new a-b-a-b rhythm, but more likely was simply an earlier step in drawing out his perspective, abandoned when the sketch was inked in.)
The perspectives also explore various decorative schemes for the vaulting, including floral stalks for the pendentive dome and arch soffits, and Greek key for the entablature of the lower arches.
Summerson ('The evolution of Soane's Bank Stock Office in the Bank of England', The Unromantic castle, 1990, p. 137) comments that 'an interesting aspect of the Dance sketches is the type of ornament indicated. It appears to consist almost entirely either of incised lines or very low relief modelling. There is no order in the canonical sense, either real or implied, nor is there any conventional enrichment. Here and there is an approximation to the Greek fret and in one instance a plant-form, borrowed from a ceiling engraved by Bartoli... This deliberate avoidance of conventional modes of expression is [found elsewhere]... and these sketches for the Bank Stock Office are in the same mood of stylistic liberation.'
The quick, pencil perspective looking towards one of the corner bays on drawing 71 shows high segmental arches beneath the lantern-domed crossing, a semi-circular arch leading from the centre-aisle into the corner, and a short semi-circular arch connecting the corner bay and side-arm. This design relates to the perspective in the middle of drawing 70, but with the realisation that widening the crossing will result in segmental arches beneath the lantern dome.
Of all the Dance studies, drawing 71 comes closest to the executed design, not only in its articulation of plan and structure but also in its decoration. It is unclear, however, if Dance has here abandoned his other four-bay schemes in favour of the eventually realised three-bay plan.
The sketch on the drawing's right-hand side shows the top of the pilasters applied to the hall's various piers and responds (and seen in the larger perspective). It shows triple fluting and broad flat fillets, surmounted by (in pen) a stylised anthemion design for the cap, and a projecting cornice. In the executed hall, Soane adapted these flutes and filleting for the shafts while simplifying the capital, reducing the frieze in height, substituting a Greek key fret for the anthemion (though he would use the anthemion in the Consols Transfer Office, begun 1798), omitting the cornice altogether.


(71) D. Abramson, Building the Bank of England: money, architecture, society 1694-1942, 2005, p. 105; (70) J. Lever, Catalogue of the drawings of George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) ... from the collection of Sir John Soane's Museum, 2003, p. 354; J. Summerson, 'The evolution of Soane's Bank Stock Office in the Bank of England', The unromantic castle, 1990, pp. 148-150, ill. 129



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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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