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Sir John Soane (1753 - 1837)

Elevation and Plan of a Dog House


Pen, ink and watercolour on paper

Inscription: ELEVATION · and · PLAN · OF · A · DOG · HOUSE · DESIGNED FOR A NOBLEMAN · ROMÆ · / 1780. [above the plan]; Above the room for the Dogs the Boiling room / from whence the lodging for the sick is to receive heat _ / Canal to run through each [.......?] to keep the Apartments clean [lower left]; the plan is annotated in Soane's hand with the functions of the various rooms and yards.

Museum number: P13

Curatorial note

This Antique-inspired design for a dog kennel was produced for the Bishop of Derry, with whom Soane (on his Grand Tour) had travelled south of Rome to examine archaological sites. Soane recalled in his later Memoirs that the Bishop had exclaimed while the two were exploring the ruins of the Villa of Lucullus (near Terracina), 'Where is the canile and tugurium? I should like to form some idea of a classical dog kennel as I intend to build one at Downhill [the Bishop's estate in Ireland] for the hounds of my eldest son ... This will be a fine subject for the display of your creative talents' (Memoirs, p.15). In response Soane took the opportunity to create for an important potential client a design that was not only a showcase for his creativity but also demonstrated all the Classical knowledge he had acquired since his arrival in Rome.

The Kennel design featured the baseless Doric columns Soane had seen used in the great Greek Doric temples at Paestum south of Naples and he adds in this version prancing hounds on the roof around the base of the dome.

This drawing is probably the one exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1781, (no.471, John Soan [this was before he added the 'e' to his name] / Design for a dog house) presumably in the interesting (and cheap!) stamped papier mâche frame in which it is still shown today.


Complete Description of Sir John Soane's Museum, 2018, p.16
Gillian Darley, John Soane: An Accidental Romantic, 1999, pp.31, 35, fig.26
J. Soane, Description, 1832, p.xii
Helen Dorey, 'The Historic Framing and presentation of watercolours, drawings and prints at Sir John's Museum', in ed. Nancy Bell, Historic Framing and Presentation of Watercolours and Prints, Proceedings of the Conference of the Institute of Paper Conservation June 1996, pp. 20-31

Exhibition history

Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836, The Courtauld Gallery, London, 17 October 2001 - 20 January 2002

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