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Joseph Michael Gandy (1771 - 1843)

John Soane, design for a Royal Palace, made in Rome, bird's-eye view

1779

Watercolour on paper

Museum number: P82

Curatorial note

This perspective is a later rendering, by Joseph Michael Gandy, of a design made by the young John Soane while he was on his grand tour, in Rome, in 1779. At the same time he produced a design for a British Senate House (see SM P254 and P261).

In his publication Designs for Public and Private Buildings..., 1828, Soane says In composing this superb mass of buildings that he endeavoured to combine magnificence with utility, and intricacy with variety and novelty. Vignola’s celebrated palace at Caprarola, determined the general outline of the plan ; and the immense remains of the imperial palace of the Caesars, in Rome — the villa of Adrian, at Tivoli—the palace of Dioclesian at Spalatro, the baths of the Romans, and the Pantheon, with its superb portico - exemplars of magnificence, intricacy, variety, and movement, uniting all the intellectual lights of classical architecture—were circumstances calculated to call forth the best energies of the young artist.

Writing in his later 1835 Description of his house Soane expands his account of this project, providing an insight into his relatiionship with an early patron and his admiration for French architecture:

In composing this design, I laboured to avail myself of the advantages arising from the contemplation of the remains of the great works of the ancients, as well as of the observations and practices of the moderns. With these feelings I endeavoured to combine magnificence with utility, and intricacy with variety and novelty. Vignola’s celebrated palace at Caprarola suggested the general outline of the plan; and the villa of Adrian at Tivoli, the Palace of Dioceltian at Spalatro, the immense remains of the palace of the Caesars in Rome, the baths of the Romans, and the interior of the Pantheon, with its superb Portico by Agrippa - exemplars of magnificence, intricacy, variety, and movement, uniting all the intellectual delights of classical architecture—were objects calculated to call forth my best energies. / The Portio is copied from that of the Pantheon: in the centre of the building is a dome, under which is another, of a smaller diameter, leaving a space for the admission of light, after the manner of the "lumiere mysterieuse" so successfully practised in the great church of the Invalids and other buildings in France. The decoration of this interior dome, by aid of appropriate machinery, is designed to form a complete representation of the solar system. In making this design, besides the advantages already mentioned, I had frequent opportunities of shewing the drawings, in their progressive state, to my honoured and lamented patron, the late Lord Camelford, then Mr Thomas Pitt, and of making such alterations in them as were pointed out by the classical taste and profound Architectural knowledge of that accomplished nobleman. / This palace was proposed to have been erected in Hydel Park, with an extensive series of magnificent hotels, relieved by occasional breaks, bounding the Park, improving its general appearance, and providing an ample fund to defray all the expense attending the completion of the design.

Exhib: RA 1828, no.1128.

Literature

Sir John Soane, Description, 1835, pp.17-18


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