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image SM (15) volume 73/124

Reference number

SM (15) volume 73/124


Design for a six-columned triumphal arch, 14 February 1803


15 Elevation; ground floor plan; rough (pencil) elevation of a door with a pediment with consoles; and rough (pencil) alternative elevation for the attic


bar scale


(capitals) The Bank of England and some dimensions given

Signed and dated

  • Lincolns Inn Fields Feby 14th 1803


Soane office and Soane


The ground floor plan in drawing 15 shows a triumphal arch with paired Corinthian columns set at an angle to the main face. Pedestals for the added columns are not included. The elevation accords with earlier designs showing single columns.

Some of the ornament has been cancelled in pencil, suggesting the omission of the niche, frieze and caduceus decorating the main face. The caduceus, a winged staff with two entwined snakes, is a common motif at the Bank. In ancient Greece, it was the symbol of the messenger, ensuring a safe passage (Hall, p. 55). In classical mythology, it is attributed to Hermes (Mercury), messenger of the Gods, inventor of the alphabet and protector of merchants and traders (Lewis and Darley, p.66). The caduceus motif at the Bank invoked the latter characterisation.


P. Lewis and G. Darley, Dictionary of Ornament, 1986; J. Hall, Subjects & Symbols in Art, 1992



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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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