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Period covered by the surviving sketch/notebooks, 1778-80


The three surviving sketch/notebooks document only a small part of a tour which began on 18 March 1778 and ended in late June 1780. A notebook with some sketches is dated December 1778 to April and July 1779 (SM volume 164). A sketchbook with notes was mostly used from January to March 1779 (SM volume 39). Finally, there is a notebook with some sketches mostly dated from April to June 1780 (SM volume 162). Thus only nine out of the twenty-eight months that Soane spent abroad are accounted for - some of them very scantily. Of other records made on Soane's tour, there are copies of measured drawings of two buildings in Sicily, but nothing for buildings in Malta, and for France there is only a separate account of the Pont de Neuilly transcribed in 1783 from a now-lost document. Soane's only encounters with antique Greek architecture were at Paestum, recorded in his sketchbook (SM volume 39), and (it is presumed) in Sicily. See also (in Drawings catalogue): Soane in Italy: measured drawings made or copied, 1778-80 and Soane's architectural education including theoretical designs made for the Royal Academy Schools, for exhibition at the Royal Academy, 1770-80 and in Italy: 1778-1780



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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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.

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).