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Joseph Michael Gandy (1771 - 1843)

Soane office; Composite drawing of the Bank of England: 12 watercolour views of various parts, interior and exterior

Watercolour on paper

Museum number: P84

Curatorial note

The Bank of England was Soane’s greatest building. He was its official architect from 1788 to 1833, retiring only at the age of 80, and described this post as ‘...a situation which has long been the pride and boast of my life’. This drawing shows designs for ‘Various Offices’ and demonstrates how imaginatively Soane exploited the necessity of lighting the halls at the Bank from above, for security reasons, to produce a wonderful variety of domed and vaulted spaces in his brilliant, original and idiosyncratic style. In Soane’s time these banking halls would have been open to the public for business to be carried out and they became one of the great landmarks of late Georgian London – Soane was even called upon to escort the Tsar of Russia on a tour of the Bank in 1814. Soane saw his Bank of England as the modern counterpart to the great Roman baths or palace complexes of the ancient world and even commissioned drawings of it as if an ancient ruin. Tragically, Soane’s great banking halls were demolished in the 1920s and only parts of the outer wall remain. One hall, the Bank Stock Office, was reconstructed in the 1980s and is now open to the public as part of the Bank of England Museum.

Exhib: RA 1822, no.854

Literature

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


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