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John Jackson (1778 - 1831)

Portrait of Sir John Soane, in Masonic Costume, as Grand Superintendent and President of the Board of Works

1828-29

Oil on panel

Height: 61.5cm
Width: 46.5cm

Museum number: P142

Curatorial note

The title of this work comes from the catalogue for the Royal Academy exhibition in 1830 at which this picture was seen for the first time. It was commissioned by Soane as one of pair with the posthumous portrait of Mrs Soane with her dog Fanny on her knee (P148).

Soane was probably inspired to commisison this portrait of himself as Architect to the Freemasons by the completion of Freemasons' Hall, in Great Queen Street, to his designs in 1828-29. Jackson depicts Soane seated, next to the 'Ark' that he designed for Freemasons' Hall and with the hall itself in the background. The artist has carefully chosen to feature one of the remarkable architectural achievements of Soane's design - placing large windows directly above the fireplaces - usually impossible because of the necessity for flues in that position. Soane managed this by running his flues sideways and then up to the chimneys. One of the large hanging argand oil lamps that lit the Hall, with its opaque glass shades, is also shown.

The masonic apron that Soane is wearing in this portrait is also in the collection, object number X271.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Commissioned by Soane from the artist in June 1828, with a pendant portrait of Mrs Soane (SM P148).

Literature

Soane, Description, 1830, p.41.
Soane, Description, 1835, p. 21
New Description, 2007, pp. 30 and 101

Exhibition history

Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1830


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