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image SM (63) 82/1/35

Reference number

SM (63) 82/1/35


Design for cornice with busts in the metopes, May 1830


63 Detail of cornice over end bays with chimney stack


(in Soane's hand) Query Busts / in Cornice / If Shields Trophies / &c are admissible / in the Metopee (sic) / of the Doric Order / why not have / busts of illustrious / persons whose / labours are / supposed to be / deposited within / the walls of this / Edifice? / 6 May

Signed and dated

  • May 1830
    (in Soane's hand) 3d May 1830

Medium and dimensions

Pencil, sepia and black washes on laid paper (408 x 302)


Charles James Richardson (1809-71, pupil and assistant 1824-1837)


fleur-de-lis above cartouche with bar and below, ornate WW


Soane proposes decorating the metopes with busts of 'illustrious persons whose labours are supposed to be deposited within the walls of this edifice'. In his eleventh lecture for the Royal Academy he had spoken about the ornamentation of ancient buildings and in particular the appropriateness of different decorative motifs to different types of buildings. 'Thus temples were of various forms, placed in different situations and decorated with ornaments in all respects suitable and analogous to the peculiar divinity to whose worship and honour the edifice was raised, and very different from those used in buildings destined to other purposes' (Watkin, Royal Academy Lectures, p. 638). Soane was a subscriber to Samuel Angell's Sculptured Metopes discovered amongst the ruins of the temples of the ancient city of Selinus in Sicily, by William Harris and Samuel Angell, in the year 1823 (1826).



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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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