An account of the Pont de Neuilly from Soane's visit to Paris in March 1778; and of the proposed Pont Louis. Transcribed, it is assumed, from a no longer existing document by an office hand into 'Precedents in Architecture', 1783-88, a record book compiled during Soane's early years in practice (SM volume 41).Inscribed (pen on cover) PRECEDENTS / In Architecture / 1784. and (pen on spine) Precedts / in / Arch / 1784 / JS.; pen (ff.2v-4r) on laid paper, watermarked T French, 85 leaves bound in vellum (366 x 250).John Sanders (1768-1826) was Soane's first articled pupil and worked in the office from 1 September 1784 to 1790. Though the drawings in this account are by Soane, the text (ungrammatical with many words mis-spelt, and written in sloping lines) appears to be in Sanders's youthful hand. Such copying was part of his architectural education.Soane's interest in bridges is evident from this illustrated account of the Pont de Neuilly, and of his meeting with its designer - Jean-Rodolphe Perronet (1708-94), Inspecteur des Ponts et Chaussées, 1749-94. Perronet is particularly associated with bridges having stretched arches. The concept evolved from the basket handle arches of the Pont de Neuilly to the stretched arches of Pont Saint-Maxene (1771-86) and his masterpiece, Pont Louis XV. Perronet's bridge-building principles also included level road surfaces and uniformly spaced piers which were made as slender as possible. His celebrated bridge-building achievements were collected in Description des projets et de la construction des ponts de Neuilly, de Mantes, d'Orléans ... (published with engraved plates in two volumes, 1782-3, supplement volume, 1789) of which there are copies in Soane's library. It is possible that Soane's simple, freehand drawings were made as details from the elaborate engraved plates of volumes I-II which included, besides the Pont de Neuilly, a 'Pont Projeté pour être construit sur la Seine, au droit de la Place de Louis XV', that is, Pont Louis XV (later Louis XVI, later still Pont de la Concorde).Literature. A. Picon, French architects and engineers in the Age of Enlightenment, Cambridge, 1992, pp.3, 4, 13, 160, 346-9; W. von Kalnein, Architecture in France in the eighteenth century, 1995, pp.228, 280 fn.33; D.Stroud, Sir John Soane, architect, 2nd ed., 1996, p.29; G.Darley, John Soane: an accidental Romantic, 1999, pp.23-4.
Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation