69 (Bailey) The Bank of England, View of a design for the "Lothbury Court"
Signed and dated
(69) April 16th 1799 (70) April 26th 1799
The Bullion Arch was clearly modeled on the Arch of Constantine in Rome (315 AD), with its figurative statues sitatuated above each column and the Coade Stone roundels carved by Thomas Bank (showing 'Night' and 'Morning' as in the original Arch). Soane lectured that the real achievement of the Arch of Constantine lay in its sculptural work, stating in Lecture IV for the Royal Academy: 'the chief beauties of the Arch of Constantine are derived from the spoils of Trajan's Forum which was plundered of its sculpture to enrich it'. The Arch of Constantine relied on the fine craftsmanship of an earlier era for its sculptures 'to supply that which the wretched artists of his day were unable to perform'. The figurative statues on the Bullion Arch were therefore a significant inclusion. He had attempted to use similar sculptures over the gate on Lothbury Street in 1796 (see drawings 12 to 18 in scheme 2:5) but these were omitted in favour of a more understated decoration (and perhaps the influence of George Dance, see drawing 28 in 2:5).
D. Watkin Sir John Soane; Enlightenment Thought and the Royal Academy Lectures, University of Cambridge, 1996, pp. 533-551.
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