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image SM 74/2/2

Reference number

SM 74/2/2

Purpose

Measured drawing

Aspect

Elevation of the Queen's Gallery

Scale

bar scale in feet of 1/4 inch to 1 foot (approximately)

Inscribed

as above, Front next the Thames of the Royal Academy from actual Measurements 1770 and Inigo Jones Architecto

Signed and dated

1770

Medium and dimensions

Pen, warm sepia and burnt umber washes, shaded within quadruple-ruled and washed border on laid paper stuck down on wove paper (and partly unstuck) (611 x 936)

Hand

Robert Baldwin ( fl.1762-c.1804)

Watermark

J Whatman (laid paper)

Notes

Soane having presumably measured the building and its details and made a preliminary drawing, evidently got Robert Baldwin to make the finished drawing - the inscribed title is certainly in Baldwin's hand as is the draughtsmanship. Professor du Prey (in conversation, February 2009) suggested that George Dance may have contributed to, for example, the shadows that reveal the profiles of some of the mouldings.
Soane became a student at the Royal Academy Schools on 25 October 1771; this measured drawing of Old Somerset House is dated 1770 and may have been part of his portfolio for admittance. It was also the subject chosen for the Royal Academy's Silver Medal competition of that year and Soane, who must have had prior knowledge, submitted it within a few days of enrolment. However, he missed by one day the submission date of 1 November and was therefore ineligible. The choice of Old Somerset House was apt for it had been the home of the Royal Academy from 1771 and continued there, in the Strand Block of the new Somerset House, from 1780 until 1837 when it joined the newly founded National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and finally moved in 1869 to Burlington House, Piccadilly.

Old Somerset House was begun in 1547-52. The river front with its arcaded Queen's Gallery was added in 1662-3 and though once thought to have been designed by Inigo Jones (died 1652), it is now attributed to John Webb.

Soane exhibited at the Royal Academy 1773, No. 281, 'Front, next the Thames, of the Royal Academy, from actual measurement'

Pencil inscriptions on the verso indicate that this drawing was used by Soane for Lecture V (drawing 72) for his Royal Academy lecture series and also for his lectures to the Royal Institution, 1817 and 1820.

See also (in Sketchbooks catalogue) a sketchbook labelled 'Miscellaneous Sketches, 1780-2 (SM volume 40) ff. 3r-4r for rough plans, sections and details of Old Somerset House drawn by Soane in December 1780 shortly before its demolition.

Jill Lever, February 2006

Literature

P. du Prey, John Soane's architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.64-5; P. du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, pp.56-8

Level

Drawing

Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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).