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François Fouquet (1787 - 1870), maker

Model of the Arch of Hadrian, Athens, 'restored', c.1800-1834, plaster of Paris.

Height: 34.6cm
Width: 25cm
Depth: 16.3cm

Museum number: MR74

Curatorial note

This model shows the arch, built in Athens in the 2nd century AD in honour of the Emperor Hadrian, which acted as a grand entrance to a new residential quarter of the city. Hadrian undertook many building projects in Athens, a city whose architecture and culture he greatly admired, in the hope of reviving the Greek-speaking eastern part of the Roman Empire with Athens as its cultural capital. The arch, built of white Pentelic marble, is all that remains today of this particular new district of the city.

The arch is dissimilar to Roman triumphal arches as it has a second storey and it was probably designed by an unknown Greek architect. There is an inscription on its west façade, facing the old city of Athens, stating: ‘This is Athens, the former city of Theseus’. On the east side, facing Hadrian’s new residential district, the inscription states: ‘This is the City of Hadrian and not of Theseus’. Fouquet has reproduced the inscription on the west façade (now fragmentary). Fouquet has based his reconstruction on plates II-X, Chapter III, Vol. III of James Stuart and Nicholas Revett’s The Antiquities of Athens, 1762 and not on Le Roy’s depiction of the Arch in his Les ruines des plus beaux monuments de la Grèce (plate XXXI). Unlike Le Roy, Fouquet includes the two pairs of columns, with shadow gaps, that flank the central entrance arch on either side shown in The Antiquities of Athens. Le Roy also does not reproduce either of the inscriptions in his plate. Fouquet has also placed two palmette antefixes at the apex of the gabled roof that crowns the top storey of the arch. All these elements are not reproduced by le Roy but can be found in Stuart and Revett’s publication.

This model, along with a number of others, was badly damaged in World War II, probably when a landmine fell onto Lincoln’s Inn Fields on the night of 15 October 1940 shattering the glass case as well as the plaster model. At some point shortly after that an attempt was made to patch the damage with plaster.
The model is currently (2016) being restored by a specialist modelmaker.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Sir John Soane purchased the twenty models by François Fouquet in 1834 from the architect Edward Cresy (1792-1858) who, from 1829 to 1835, worked in Paris. Soane paid Cresy the substantial sum of £100 (£10,136.78 in today’s money). It is likely that Cresy purchased the models directly from Fouquet et Fils.


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