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7. 'Letters from Italy ...' by Lady Miller, 1777, annotated by Soane, 1778-80


Miller, Lady Anna Riggs (1741-81)Letters from Italy, describing the manners, customs, antiquities, paintings, &c. of that country, in the years MDCCLXX and MDCCLXXI, to a friend residing in France. By an English woman. The second edition, revised and corrected. In two volumes...., published in 1777, volume II, [2], 392, [22] p., bound in vellum (212 x 140)Only the second of the two-volume book that Soane took with him to Italy has survived. It accompanied Soane for his entire trip from 18 March 1778 until the end of June 1780. The volume contains his comments on paintings, sculpture, buildings and places, such as Exceedingly fine indeed or A most beastly composition, as well as corrections and additions to Lady Miller's text. For example, the author described the Pantheon dome as not having 'the smallest vestige remaining of any metal' to which Soane responded, the cornice ... is all of Bronze & part of the Gilding rem[ain]s. He also underlined subjects and ticked the printed marginal headings that highlight a particular place, building or work of art. These underlinings and ticks presumably show that Soane has seen the relevant place or object but are not given here since there are so many. The names of places, buildings and art works in this catalogue are as given in Lady Miller's book. The only sketches by Soane are two thumbnail plans of the San Carlo theatre in Naples (p.140) and the only dates are anno domini 1779 (p.142, Naples) and (p.174) a reference to Palm Sunday in Rome, 1779 and 1780 (28 March 1779 and 19 March 1780, confirming that Soane was in Rome on those days).For bibliographical description see online Library Catalogue See also another guidebook bought by Soane (in Florence, April 1780) to which he added notes: Louis Dutens, Itinéraire des routes les plus fréquentées, ou journal d'un voyage aux villes principales de l'Europe, en 1768, 1769, 1770, et 1771, published 1777.



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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 7. 'Letters from Italy ...' by Lady Miller, 1777, annotated by Soane, 1778-80