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  • image M1146

Model for a villa, Acton, Middlesex: version ‘A’, designed by Sir John Soane, 1801

Painted wood

Height: 38cm
Width: 43cm
Depth: 50.5cm

Museum number: M1146

Curatorial note

On May 27th 1800 Soane went to inspect a plot of land in Acton belonging to Mr Selby. He was to buy the property for £500 with the intention of building himself a country villa. According to the office Day Books, Seward and Sword were employed in making drawings for the new house from the 28th May on. Soane developed a sequence of five alternative designs for the Acton villa (see Summerson’s account). This model illustrates the fourth in the series and can be related quite specifically to drawings 31/3/30-37, dated from July 11th to 14th. On July 12th Gandy started a perspective for the house; it was a task that would keep him occupied until August 1st.

Work on the design progressed steadily, with Seward or Sword or both ‘About plans for House’ for Mr Soane almost daily. By August 2nd, however, Soane had heard that Pitzhanger Manor would shortly be up for sale, for on that day it is recorded that Seward ‘went to Ealing to take Plans of Mr Gurnells House’. The Acton villa design was not immediately abandoned: model M1145 is based on the fifth and final version, as shown in drawings 31/3/8, 10-11 & 15, all dated August 7th; indeed Summerson suggests that the design was adapted to suit the requirements for Pitzhanger.

The close association of the models with particular groups of drawings leads us to suppose that they are of much the same date; they were probably made between July and August 1800 when their respective designs were evolved.

Exhibition history

Building a Dialogue: The Architect and the Client, Sir John Soane's Museum, London, 17 February - 9 May 2015
In Pursuit of Antiquity: Drawings by the Giants of British Neo-Classicism, Sir John Soane's Museum, 1 February - 1 June 2008; Tchoban Foundation Museum für Architekturzeichnung, Berlin, 3 October 2015 - 14 February 2016

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