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  • image Image 1 for SM (78) 48/1/12 (79) 48/1/13
  • image Image 2 for SM (78) 48/1/12 (79) 48/1/13
  • image Image 3 for SM (78) 48/1/12 (79) 48/1/13
  • image Image 1 for SM (78) 48/1/12 (79) 48/1/13
  • image Image 2 for SM (78) 48/1/12 (79) 48/1/13
  • image Image 3 for SM (78) 48/1/12 (79) 48/1/13

Reference number

SM (78) 48/1/12 (79) 48/1/13


[78-79] Variant designs for the Pitt Cenotaph and for sarcophagi and finials, September 1818 (2)


78 Section through first floor and dome, the ground floor incomplete, verso: section through first floor and dome 79 Plan and elevations with section of steps


(78) bar scale of 3½ inches to 5 feet (79) bar scale equivalent of 1 and 3/10 inch to 1 foot


(78) some (pencil) dimensions and a calculation (79) (pencil) Finial (twice), A

Signed and dated

  • (79) 15th Septr 1818 (office) 16 Sept: 1818 (Soane)

Medium and dimensions

(78 recto) Pen, sepia, burnt sienna and blue washes, pencil, shaded on wove paper (685 x 457) (78 verso) pen, sepia, light blue and pink washes, pencil, shaded and as recto (79) pen, sepia and pink washes, pencil, shaded on stout wove paper (474 x 680)


(78) Soane office (79) Soane office and dated by Soane


Drawing 78 recto and verso have each a dome without a lantern though the verso has one sketchily added-in. Both drawings are unfinished and have pencil additions by Soane. On the recto two sarcophagi and four funerary urns have been added above the entablature between the first floor and the dome. Three 'finial[s]' (inscribed thus on drawing 79) are arranged between the Corinthian columns of the first floor. The verso has a single sarcophagus 5.0 by 3.0 above the entablature and a (pencil) suggestion of a large urn behind the columns. The sarcophagus is pencilled in by Soane and there are others by him in the margins of the drawing.
Drawing 79 is a design for a 'finial' with small brown pen and pencil additions by Soane. Another appears on the roof of the Debt Redemption Office (drawing 71) though the proportions are different. Both have a pineapple or pine cone cupped by leaves on a striated pedestal supported by an eight-sided domed antefix on a base. It is difficult to know what, if anything, these finials symbolize. Soane had a penchant for funeral ornament, his own tomb illustrates that rather well and he designed a number of monuments and memorials. Some of his drawings for the Pitt Cenotaph have lamp standards of an elongated vase form on a pedestal (drawings 74,76,77). Different again are the seven models (some full size) that were made for Soane and that are termed 'pedestals' by J. Wilton-Ely ('The architectural models of Sir John Soane: a catalogue', pp.28-29, fig.18c, Architectural History: Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, XII, 1969). Some of these models resemble tombs, for example that of Samuel Bosanquet (SM MP 33, 217, 222). The drawings (99 and 100) by Wightwick made in 1827 during his brief stay in Soane's office show a different type of 'finial' that was described as a 'tripod with an arched opening and fluted Doric pilasters' by P. du Prey in Sir John Soane, 1985, cat.298, p.87 in the series: Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum.



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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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