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A female figure, perhaps Venus, rising from the sea

Height: 37cm

Museum number: MRR15

Curatorial note

The goddess is seated on a shell and has a fishing net in her lap. This figure was the finial or 'termination' of a pump case, which was in the open 'loggia' at the front of No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, on the ground floor, until it was enclosed in 1829. The wooden base may be part of the cover for the pump and takes the form of a finely carved wooden cinerary urn, decorated with a ribboned wreath, on the top of which sits the bronze figure, which is probably Italian and 17th or 18th century. The base must have been made to Soane's own design whilst the figure was presumably in his collection when he installed the ornamental top to the pump, either in 1812, when he built the house, or some time later, before its removal in 1829.

In his 1835 Description Soane included a footnote to his account of the bookcase lined recesses at the south end of the Library Dining Room, once part of the open 'loggia': In the original construction were two large windows with folding shutters leading into an open Gallery or Loggia. In the centre pier was an ornamental pump, supplied with excellent water from a well in the basement story.

Sadly, no view or plan records the position or appearance of the pump before its removal although a Well is shown beneath the floor of the front kitchen on the plan of the drains, Museum number P23, which hangs in Soane's Dressing Room.

Literature

Peter Thornton and Helen Dorey, A Miscellany of Objects from Sir John Soane's Museum, 1992, p.32
J. Soane, Description, 1835, p.6


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