Explore Collections Explore The Collections
You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  Matthew Duane: designs for chimneypieces and mirror frames, 1774 (5)



Matthew Duane: designs for chimneypieces and mirror frames, 1774 (5)

Signed and dated

  • 1774


Matthew Duane (1707-85) was a Roman Catholic, possibly of Irish origin. In the 1730s he established a legal career in both Newcastle and London, working in Lincoln’s Inn Fields from 1748. As a Roman Catholic he could not be called to the Bar, but became a successful conveyancer. In 1742 he married Dorothy Dawson (1722-99) an heiress, enabling Duane to buy estates in Northumberland. He was also a known patron of the arts and a numismatist, being a fellow of the Royal Society, and the Society of Antiquaries, and a trustee of the British Museum, as well as amassing a large collection of coins and medals.

Duane had come into contact with the Adam brothers when he acted as conveyancer in their dealings with the Royal Society of Arts on the Adelphi estate. In 1774 he commissioned Adam to make these designs for chimneypieces and mirror frames, although the intended location for these designs is not known, and moreover, they are not known to have been executed. Duane owned two estates in Northumberland, Wideopen and Donnington, as well as presumably, a London town house (Mrs Duane was in possession of 22 Bedford Row in 1794). Also, in 1779 he acquired The Grove in Twickenham, where Walpole reports that he made 'extensive alterations'. Mrs Duane remained at The Grove until 1795, but the acquisition date of 1779 for this house is too late for it to have been the intended location of Adam’s designs made in 1774.

One of Duane's pupils was the Scottish judge, John Clerk, Lord Eldin, one of Robert and James Adam's nephews, although it is unlikely that it was through this connection that Robert Adam came into Duane's acquaintance, as John Clerk was only 17 years old in 1774.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 54, 69; E. Harris, The furniture of Robert Adam, 1963, Index p. 59; D.G.C. Allan, The Adelphi past and present: a history and a guide, 2001, p. 43; The Twickenham Museum website/People/Matthew Duane

Frances Sands, 2013



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

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: drawings@soane.org.uk

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).  

Contents of Matthew Duane: designs for chimneypieces and mirror frames, 1774 (5)