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Purpose

Preliminary, early, intermediate and late designs, copies, perspectives by J.M.Gandy and R.A. exhibition drawing, 1778-1799, for the so-called 'Chatham mausoleum' for the Earl of Chatham died 11 May 1778 (15)

Signed and dated

  • 1778
    Main Year
  • Other Years: 1779 1781-4 1799

Notes

Drawing 1 by Dance (volume 42/172 verso) was made before 18 March 1778 and is for a generic mausoleum rather than specifically for the Earl of Chatham, Whig politician and Prime Minister 1766-8, who died on 11 May 1778, nine days after Soane arrived in Rome. Drawing 2 by Soane (volume 42/122 recto) was made in 1781. Drawing 3 (volume 42/97) is related to drawings 1 and especially 2. There are no surviving dated design drawings.
If the sequence of drawings in this catalogue is correct, it seems that Soane developed Dance's initial idea and dedicated the finished design to Chatham. For convenience, the preliminary, early, intermediate and late designs catalogued here have been grouped together under the 'so-called' Chatham heading. What they appear to have in common is a plan that is largely compass-drawn and that originated as a trefoil plan that became a variant, partly elongated trefoil plan. Two other designs for mausolea by Soane have an X-plan see (Soane's architectural education ...): 'Mausoleum to the Memory of James King drowned June 9 1776', and Unidentified mausoleum on an X-plan, 1779-80
In 1781 Soane exhibited at the Royal Academy, three drawings for 'a mausoleum' ('elevation', 'design' and 'plan') and in 1784 a 'Design for a mausoleum' and another in 1792, 'a national mausoleum' in 1799, and 'a mausoleum' in 1805. In 1793, he published a plan and elevation in Sketches in architecture ....; plate xxxviii was captioned 'Elevation of a National Museum. This design was made at Rome in the year 1779, in consequence of the death of the great Earl of Chatham...'. In 1832, Soane published a further variant design of the Chatham mausoleum in Designs Public and Private, plate xxxiv. The building type clearly had a fascination for Soane.
Related drawings at the Victoria and Albert Museum: see P.du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', catalogue 16-19
Literature. P.du Prey, John Soane's architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.134-9; P.du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, pp.172-5; J. Lever, 'The Soane-Dance collaboration, 1771-1799, Architectural History, volume 53, 2010, pp.163-190

Jill Lever

Level

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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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Contents of Preliminary, early, intermediate and late designs, copies, perspectives by J.M.Gandy and R.A. exhibition drawing, 1778-1799, for the so-called 'Chatham mausoleum' for the Earl of Chatham died 11 May 1778 (15)