- The drawings of Sir John Soane
Soane probably began contemplating the corner's design as early as 1800, when the Bank secured permission from Parliament for acquiring land for its new north-west expansion. The Corporation of London also began plans in 1800 for improving the streets around the Bank. In 1802 the City of London's planning scheme positioned the Bank’s north-west corner at a prominent junction of improved avenues (see scheme 3:3). From its earliest stages, Soane envisioned Tivoli Corner as a focal point of the new cityscape.
Designs for the corner began in January 1803, when Soane records working on the 'end forn of Bank' on Saturday and Sunday the 5th and 6th of January. Designs came to a halt in February, however, when negotiations faltered for the new extension’s property acquisitions. As property and facilities manager and rental agent, as well as Parliamentary lobbyist for land acquisition bills (Abramson, 2005, p. 163), Soane was responsible for negotiating with the leaseholders of the properties as well as the owners. Without terms agreed with all 50 separate building plots, construction could not be completed on the new wing, especially at its corner. After three years of negotiations, eight houses were still occupied in May of 1803. As late as January 1805, two houses were still not yet acquired and in the way of building.
Lothbury and Princes Streets meet at an acute angle, as opposed to the other three corners of the Bank. Soane had built curved corners on Lothbury Street in 1797, but the concept of a curving north-west corner (and with that a more straightforward reproduction of the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli) did not materialise until October 1804. Designs from January and February 1803 show a blind triumphal arch at the corner. Rough alterations to some of these drawings show a portico on an inward curving segmental plan; indications of the final design. A new set of designs begins in September 1804, beginning with three variant preliminary designs made while on a weekend holiday in Margate. The corner took on a new form, consisting of a four-columned portico between single columns set at an oblique angle to the main face on each end (an at right-angles to Princes and Lothbury Streets). In October, a second column was added at both ends of the portico. An alternative design shows four columns receded in antis and between the paired columns, forming a continuos portico on a splayed plan. In October, the four columns were set on a convex segmental plan. Soane worked on attic designs until June 1805.
The Tivoli Corner still partly exists today. The attic was demolished in March 1933, during the re-construction of the Bank by Herbert Baker. A pedestrian walkway was cut through the corner, passing behind the curving screen of columns.
Literature: A.T. Bolton, A short account of the evolution of the design of the Tivoli Corner of the Bank of England, designed by Sir John Soane, R.A. 1804-1805, London: Sir John Soane's Museum, 1933; M. Acres, The Bank of England from within, 1931, pp. 397-399; M. Richardson, 'John Soane and the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli', Architectural History, vol. 46, 2003, pp. 129-145; D. Abramson, Building the Bank of England, 2005, pp. 146-156.
Madeleine Helmer, 2011
Contents of Tivoli Corner 1803-1805 (61)
- Design for a four-columned triumphal arch, 25 January and 2 February 1803 (2)
- Record drawings of alternative designs for a four-columned triumphal arch (2)
- Design for a four-columned triumphal arch, introducing an attic chamber, February 1803 (2)
- Design for a four-columned triumphal arch, with additions to the drawing showing a six-columned portico set on an inverted segmental plan, 5 February 1803
- Alternative design for a six-columned triumphal arch set on an inverted curve
- Design for a four-columned triumphal arch, introducing a shouldered attic plan and a panelled Vitruvian door, 7 and 9 February 1803
- Designs for a four-columned triumphal arch, one dated 9 February 1803 (2)
- Design for a four-columned triumphal arch, introducing an intermediate upper storey, February 1803 (2)
- Design for a six-columned triumphal arch, 14 February 1803
- Record drawings of a design for a four-columned triumphal arch (3)
- Design for a four-columned triumphal arch with an an enlarged attic and un-fluted columns
- Record drawing of an alternative triple-arched design with a central arch flanked by smaller arched niches
- Preliminary variant designs for a portico between single columns each set at an oblique angle to the main face, 16 September 1804
- Variant designs for a four-columned portico between single columns each set at an angle to the main face, 18 and 19 September 1804 (2)
- Working drawings for the interior of a four-columned portico, showing only two floors, 25 September 1804 (3)
- Designs for a four-columned portico, showing alternative podiums and columniation at the corners, September 1804 (2)
- Variant designs for a four-columned portico between twin columns set at an angle to the main face, September and October 1804 (3)
- Working drawing for the attic, 15 October 1804
- Design for a four-columned portico in antis between paired columns projecting at an oblique angle to the main face, 12 and 19 October 1804 (3)
- Record drawing of a four-columned portico in antis between paired columns projecting at an oblique angle to the main face, 3 November 1804
- Preliminary designs for consoles for the attic
- Alternative designs, one showing a portico on a concave segmental plan, 11 October 1804
- Preliminary design for the attic over a portico on a segmental plan, 10 December 1804
- Variant designs for a four-columned portico on a segmental plan, November and December 1804 (2)
- Design for a balustraded attic over a portico on a segmental plan, December 1804 and February 1805 (2)
- Variant designs for a pedimented attic with a segmental opening on the lowers stage, for a portico on a segmental plan, 30 and 31 December 1804 (3)
- Alternative design for a pedimented attic, 30 January 1805
- Variant designs and details for a portico on a segmental plan
- Variant designs for a pedimented attic over a portico on a segmental plan, February 1805 (3)
- Design for a pedimented attic over a portico on a segmental plan, February 1805
- Working drawing for an antefix, copied 2 February 1805
- Variant designs for a pedimented attic, April 1805 (3)
- Designs for a pedimented attic over a portico on a segmental plan, 7 and 8 June 1805 (2)
- Design for the urns at the corners of the attic, 4 June 1805
- Record drawing of the north-west corner, as executed, by J.M. Gandy
- Drawing made for exhibition, 1824
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).