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image SM volume 109/75

Reference number

SM volume 109/75


[6/4] Preparatory design for the dome lantern, 1700-01, with sketched details of cornice and capital profiles, and structural elements of the cupola and lantern


Elevation, with half plan superimposed below, and sections and plans sketched above


6 feet = 4 9/10 inches (1 foot = approx 3/5 inches)


By Hawksmoor in brown ink, vertically against right side of lantern, 6: foot 8: inches. and 10 In : Square.; and vertically on right-hand square column of lantern, 6 foot ---- 8 inches below plan, foot 6 . 0 inches ; and with two dimensions on the plan and numbering on the scale bar; and at top left of sheet, vertically, a subtraction in pounds, shillings and pence, 3134 19 . 1 / 2425 10 .11 / -------- / 709 8 2; and at top right of sheet, below tear, in C19 hand, 75

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable c.1701

Medium and dimensions

Pen and brown ink with grey wash over graphite under-drawing, and with pen shading and additions in graphite; composite sheet of laid paper in three joined pieces: (1) main part of design from bottom of sheet ot top of lantern cornice (320 x 242); (2) narrow middle strip showing lower part of base of crowning finial (50 x 235, but with only 12 mm visible); (3) finial from middle of base upwards (170 x 237). The narrow middle strip is pasted behind the other two sheets and was inserted to extend the design of the finial vertically; pencilled chevrons on the left side were added to guide the joining of the lower sheet to the narrow strip (by then already joined to the top sheet); early tear at top right-hand corner; 498 x 242


Hawskmoor (although the handwriting of the inscriptions is uncharacteristic)


(1) countermark: D (?)


Hawksmoor developed this design for the lantern of the hall dome from his plan and section of the dome in the RIBA Drawings Collection (former E5/5; see Wren Society, VI, p. 89, Bold 2000, fig. 168). The RIBA drawing is dated 'Greenwich Feb: 1700'. i.e. Old Style, for 1701 New Style. Two months earlier, in December 1700, Hawksmoor was paid for a model of the 'Cupola' (PRO ADM 68/674; it is displayed at the Greenwich ORNC World Heritage Site exhibition gallery).

The drawing is datable to the end of 1700 and the beginning of 1701. It revises the lantern in the RIBA drawing, bringing it closer to that in the model and the fabric. Instead of pairs of outer and inner columns there is now a single ring of square columns resting on long bases with consoles on the outer sides. The consoles make the transition from the wide rim at the top of the cupola and the peristyle of the lantern. This use of consoles can be traced back to Brunelleschi's lantern on the dome of Florence Cathedral. In execution, the consoles were omitted.

The two pencil profiles at top left are for the cornice of the lantern. The lower one appears to show the method for laying lead flashing over a roll moulding at the junction with the base of the finial. Of the three pencil sketches on the upper right, the bottom one is for the capitals of the square columns. It illustrates the hidden iron construction within the combined architrave and frieze. Above is probably a sketch for the iron suspension construction within the lantern finial. Above this is part of a cruciform plan, intersected by diagonals (but cut off by tear at top right-hand corner). It is probably a plan of the supporting structure for the lantern at its base. The purpose of the pencil calculations written over this plan is unclear.

The design evolved by stages. Hawksmoor cut off his first proposal above the main cornice of the lantern. This may have included the vases shown on the RIBA drawing. A taller, heavier finial than that on the RIBA drawing was then added. This part of the design was extended downwards at its base before being attached to the cornice of the peristyle of the lantern. The finial incorporates an octagonal base and concave drum, terminated by a rim like that on the top of the cupola below the lantern. Above is a ring of consoles supporting a ball finial and weathervane.


Downes, Hawksmoor, 1979, cat. no. 369; Wren Society, VI, p. 90 (top)



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