- English Baroque Drawings: architecture, sculpture and garden design
In this drawing the single flight has been replaced by a perron, set forward of the colonnade and approached by steps on each side. The left extension to the original sheet illustrates a central flight of steps, in the middle of the avenue. Although this perron is a recurring feature on drawings and engraved plans and perspective views of Greenwich Hospital up to 1735, there is no evidence that it was ever built in this form (see Notes on [6/5]).
Visible beneath the flaps are earlier versions of these features similar to those in Gribelin's engraving. The concealed version of the dome is a hemisphere with twelve ribs, its base ringed by vases resting on the tops of the segmental-headed openings. This is the version of the dome in the engraving and in the All Souls elevation, Geraghty 2007, no. 201. The concealed front steps are identical to those of the engraving, where the four lowest steps overlap the fronts of the pedestals.
The amendments on the pasted overlays are as follows:
1. An inverted L-shaped overlay showing a two-stage colonnade. This projects forward of the main colonnade and creates an attic storey above it. Sketched beneath this flap is a scheme in pen and wash for a portico of giant-order Composite columns projecting beyond the line of the colonnade, into the central avenue space. Perspective lines have been added in graphite to the revision on the flap in an attempt to suggest the appearance of the two-stage projecting portico in raking view. Both ideas, on the main sheet and flap, imply an aggrandisement of the hall range of the three-block scheme, the first with a giant-order portico and the second with a two-stage portico.
2. A square-shaped overlay showing a revised design for the cupola of the dome. It is smaller than the dome on the main sheet beneath. This revision is characteristic of Hawksmoor in its dramatic reduction of scale. He creates an exaggerated effect of recession, reinforced by perspective. Before this overlay was pasted on the drawing, the cornices of these segmental openings carried flaming urns.
3. Two small triangular-shaped overlays either side of the pediment with revisions to the bases of the urns that rest on the corners of the square base of the dome;
4. A long rectangular overlay covering the basement of the portico, from the ground to the bottoms of the column bases. It incorporates a design for a perron approached by flights of steps at each end, and has a central voussoired door surround.
5. A narrow strip over the balustrade of the portico, between the end pedestals and between the basement and cornice of the balustrade. It obscures the balusters of the original design. The balusters have been redrawn in the left-hand bay. An inscription panel has been redrawn over the central three bays;
6. A small rectangular overlay covering the lintel and wall area above the left-hand of the two doors in the right-hand end-pavilion of the elevation.
Save for the addition of the giant order at the east end, the parts of the drawing now obscured by pasted overlays agree closely with the engraved view.
The improvised Latin inscription on the left-hand side of the sheet belongs to the revision stage of the design. It is written in a smaller hand on the left sheet paper, which was added to accommodate the additional projecting portico and the central cross-wall and steps. It refers to the south-facing elevation of the dome and portico. Translated, it reads: 'Refectory at Greenwich, north elevation / with portico and entrance steps / to ascend to the vestibule'.
The inscription on the verso may be linked to Hawksmoor's appointment as Clerk of Works in July 1698. It is a 'to do' list, and begins with the words, In ye first place. This is followed by a list, beginning with Under hall, which implies that work had then already begun on the vaulted hall in the basement of the building. That would be consistent with the chronology set out above, since the lower parts of the elevation are as built (save for the addition of doors at the west end, an amendment not carried out). The reference to the Infirmery would relate to plans that were afoot at the time of the three-block scheme for the building of an infirmary on the ground that the hospital was seeking to acquire on the west side. The earliest such plan is that at Lambeth Palace Library (MS 933/99; Bold 2000, fig. 140), a drawing datable to the latter part of 1698 on the basis of discussions at the Fabric Committee on 15 July that year about ground recently purchased by 'Mr Wise' (marked 'Mr Wise' and 'Blissett's Garden' on the Lambeth Palace plan).
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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