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image Image 1 for SM (43) 48/1/5 (44) 48/1/3 (45) 48/1/6 (46) 48/1/26
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  • image Image 1 for SM (43) 48/1/5 (44) 48/1/3 (45) 48/1/6 (46) 48/1/26
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  • image Image 4 for SM (43) 48/1/5 (44) 48/1/3 (45) 48/1/6 (46) 48/1/26

Reference number

SM (43) 48/1/5 (44) 48/1/3 (45) 48/1/6 (46) 48/1/26

Purpose

[43-46] First designs by Soane for a Cenotaph to commemorate William Pitt the Younger, 17-20 December 1817 (4)

Aspect

43 Section through three floors with an Ionic order 44 Section through three floors with a Corinthian order 45 Cross section through three floors with Corinthian and Ionic orders and a lobby 46 Part-plan of ground floor with plans of ceilings including banking hall and Cenotaph

Scale

(43-45) to a scale (46) bar scale of 3½ inches to 5 feet

Inscribed

46 National Debt Redemption Office &c, diam. / 9.0 / & / 14.6 / high, 15.6 / high, Arch and a few dimensions given

Signed and dated

  • (43) 17 / & / 18 Decr 1817 (44) 20 Decr / 1817 (45) 1817 (46) 20 Decr / 1817 (office) Lincolns Inn Fields / December 20 1817

Medium and dimensions

(43) Pencil, sepia and pink washes, shaded, pricked for transfer on wove paper (675 x 487) (44) pencil, sepia and pink washes, shaded, partly pricked for transfer on wove paper (710 x 517) (45) pencil, sepia, pink and Naples yellow washes, shaded on wove paper (513 x 614) (46) pen, sepia and pink washes, partly pricked for transfer on wove paper (726 x 540)

Hand

(43-46) Soane dated these drawings, the Day Book entries give Henry Parke (1790-1835, pupil 1814-1820) as making 'perspective sections'

Notes

William Pitt the Younger (1759-1816), Tory politician and Prime Minister at the age of 24, was important to Soane who had altered and added to Pitt's Holwood House in Kent from 1786 and who owed him a great deal in terms of patronage not least Soane's position as architect to the Bank of England. The inspiration for a National Debt Redemption Office has come from Pitt who, on his death at 43, had been buried in Westmnster Abbey. Soane conceived the idea of a Cenotaph or 'sepulchral monument erected in honour of a person whose body is elsewhere' (OED) within the Redemption Office.
These drawings, in Soane's hand and dated by him 17, 18 and 20 December 1817 are the first expression of that idea. The form it took was of a tribune which is to say, a space penetrating the ground and upper floors of a building usually articulated by arcades or columns and often top-lit. A form used by Soane as early as 1774 for a student design for a 'Nobleman's house' (q.v.) and, for example, at Tyringham (q.v.) and Pitzhanger (q.v.), the tribune is used here both for affect and specifically to light the proposed statue.
The plan (drawing 46) corresponds with the banking hall and the 'statue' room shown on drawing 41 but here the details for the elaborate ceilings have been added. The circular part of the banking hall ceiling is 15 feet 6 inches in diameter, the statue room 9 feet 6 inches and with winged figures (? angels, Victory?) in the corners of the ceiling. The latter is virtually wall-less and with a pair of columns to each side. For the same design see drawings 84 and 85.
The sectional drawings 43 and 44 are variant designs and differ in the use of an Order (Ionic or Corinthian) while at ground floor level, 43 has an Ionic screen, 44 has a banded rusticated wall (on which hangs a roundel close to Soane's own relief plaster of 'Evening' from the Arch of Constantine) and a pair of Ionic columns on each side of the statue. A comparison drawing 45 shows it to be closer to 43 except that the first floor order is Corinthian.
The introduction of a domed two-storey tribune would have disrupted the layout of the upstairs domestic apartments.

Level

Drawing

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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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