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  • image P400
SM P400. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photo: Art UK

Christopher William Hünneman (1755 - 1793)

Portrait of John Soane


Oil on canvas

Height: 59cm
Width: 48cm

Museum number: P400

Curatorial note

C.W. Hunneman was a fellow student with Soane at the Royal Academy and probably painted this small portrait of Soane in honour of his winning the Royal Academy Gold Medal in 1776. It was later erroneously stated to have been painted in Rome in 1779 but there seems no reason to disbelieve Soane's own words in his 1830 Description where he refers to it as a 'Portrait of a young artist painted in 1776'.

The portrait shows Soane as an eager and earnest young architect, holding a pair of porportional dividers.

At the time of Soane's death the portrait hung in the shaft above the Book Passage on the second floor and it returned to that position in 2015 when the restoration of that area was completed. Soane created the shaft at the same time as his first Model Room in the attic and the placing of the portrait seems to indicate that it was intended to be viewed from that room - a reminder of his youthful triumph.

Provenance help-art-provenance

The first inventory of Sir John Soane's Museum says this portrait was painted in Rome in 1779. Soane himself states in his 1830 Description that it was painted in 1776 and it is assumed that it was presented to him at that time by the artist.


Soane, Description, 1830 p. 41 and 1835 p. 96
Bolton, A.T., The portrait of Sir John Soane, 1927, p.
Stroud. D., 'Sir John Soane, Architect', London, 1984, pg. 28
Thornton and Dorey, Miscellany, 1992, p.125
Richardson, Margaret and Stevens, MaryAnne (eds.), John Soane Architect: Master of Space and Light, RA exhibition catalogue, 1999, p.83
Darley, 1999
New Description, 2007, p.63

Exhibition history

John Soane Architect: Master of Space and Light, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 11 September - 3 December 1999; Centro Palladio, Vicenza, April - August 2000; Hôtel de Rohan, Paris, January - April 2001; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, 16 May - 3 September 2001; Real Academia des Bellas Artes, Madrid, October - December 2001
Permanently Magical: Restoration and Renewal of Sir John Soane's Museum, Sir John Soane's Museum, London, 2 July - 4 September 2010

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