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Reference number

SM 45/1/13 recto


Penultimate design on an elliptical plan and with alternative wings and elevational treatment, by George Dance, 1778


6 Plan, elevation (with cut-out and pasted elevation of stepped Pantheon-type dome, drawn on thin secretary paper, added), cross section with rough pencil additions of elevation of doorway and of part section; (verso, pencil, Soane) slight elevation of domed two-storey building; neat elevation of lidded urn on stepped base; rough plan that is a shallow Greek cross but with two semicircular ends; and section through a room with bow window related to Soane's designs for a summer dining room see (Soane's early works, 1770-1785) Downhill: County Down, Northern Ireland: Unexecuted design for a summer dining room for Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry ...


to a scale


(recto) dimensions (added by Soane) including 597 feet amended to 633 for the main body of the front

Signed and dated

  • Aug.10.1778 (Soane)

Medium and dimensions

Pen and wash, shaded, pencil, four dabs of red sealing wax on verso, on laid paper with two fold marks (one sheet with strips added on three sides, two later repairs) (562 x 609)


George Dance (1741-1825); verso, Soane


- - T T - - ? - O T T I V (Italian made? Heawood, I, under 'names' shown none with two TTs in the middle)


Additions, erasures, alterations and the strips added to the original drawing sheet suggest that the design (consisting of a stretched elliptical plan with two short pairs of wings with temple-fronted ends) was amended so that one pair of wings was extended by the addition of colonnades on a semicircular plan stopped by (temple-fronted) pavilion ends. In the final design (drawing 7) the option of the larger curved wings was chosen. These great courtyards bring to mind Bernini's piazza in front of St Peter's in Rome. Or, more mundanely, to Soane's unsuccessful (second) competition design for St Luke's Hospital for Lunatics, 1777
Internally, the architect experiments with different room plans; those on the main axis and on the three cross-axes being symmetrical on either side. The four, main (and unlabelled) compartments have centralised plans of increasing complexity.
Externally the designer gives alternative treatments to the fronts either side of the domed centre. There is a Schinkel-esque giant order and mezzanine with windows on the right-hand side of the bowed centre and single-storey columns support a deep frieze with bas-relief on the left-hand side. And the pavilions with porticos have a pediment or a drum crowned by sculpture
Though the drawing is dated 19 August 1778, by which time Soane (having left England on 18 March) had been abroad for five months, the drawing is in George Dance's hand with only the dimensions in Soane's hand. The drawing technique of, say, the elevation is certainly Dance's - the minutely drawn equestrian statues either side of the entrance support the attribution. The drawing paper with its unreadable watermark appears to be Italian - which is puzzling since logically Dance would have made the drawing in London and he generally used Whatman or imported Dutch drawing paper. Since sealing wax was sometimes used to affix drawings to the drawing board, it's presence does not necessarily imply that the drawing sheet was sent in the post. But could it have been a wrapper for drawings sent by Soane for Dance's comments which was then used by Dance to draw on?



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).