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Design for a Triumphal Bridge for the Royal Academy Schools Gold Medal competition 1776, later revised and sent to the Parma Academy, 1780, with preliminary designs by George Dance, 1776 and ? 1778, and later copies and perspectives, 1796-c.1827 (21)

1776
Soane’s success in winning the Royal Academy’s Gold Medal competition for a Triumphal Bridge in 1776 was an important milestone in his career for it gained him both kudos and the chance to travel to Italy for three years. However, from the evidence of the surviving drawings catalogued here, it seems that Soane may have owed part of his success to his friend and master, George Dance. For example, drawing 1 is by Dance and has all the essentials of the entrance elevation (No.3) submitted to the Royal Academy.
When Dance had been in Italy (1759-1764) he won the Gold Medal competition of the Parma Academy for his design for a public gallery (drawings in the Soane Museum, see J.Lever, Catalogue of the drawings of George Dance the Younger (1741-1825) ... from the collection of Sir John Soane's Museum, 2003, [17].1-8). Soane wanted to emulate Dance’s achievement and began making designs for the subject set by the Parma Academy for 1779-80, a Castello d’acqua (or waterworks) (q.v.). However he gave up the idea and decided instead to submit a revised version of his Royal Academy design for a triumphal bridge in order to gain some sort of connection with the Academy. Again, he sought help from Dance who suggested alternative designs in a Greek Doric style (see drawings 6a-e). Soane adopted one of the designs and submitted it to the Parma Academy, receiving honorary membership in 1781.
Related drawings at the Victoria and Albert Museum: see P.du Prey, Sir John Soane, 1985, in series of 'Catalogues of the architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum', cat. 39-43.
Literature. P.du Prey, John Soane's architectural education 1753-80, 1977, p.77-85, 314-7; P.du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, pp.77-87; M.Richardson & M.Stevens (eds), John Soane architect: master of space and light, 1999, pp.86-95; J. Lever, 'The Soane-Dance collaboration, 1771-1799, Architectural History, volume 53, 2010, pp.163-190

Jill Lever, September-November 2005
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