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  • image XF314
Hanging porch lantern, XF314, English, unknown maker ?William Mathews, c.1824- 27, brass and glass.

A hanging porch lantern, English, unknown maker (?William Mathews), c.1824-27

Brass and glass

Height: 53.7cm
Width: 33cm
Depth: 33cm

Museum number: XF314

Curatorial note

With glazed sides and bottom and four small ball feet; one side opening as a door; anthemion ornaments at the top corners; originally gas but now converted to electricity.

The lantern is suspended from the ceiling of the external porch. It is described in the 1837 Furniture and Fittings Inventory as ‘Large brass lantern, glazed sides and bottom, with brass pulley, chain, Balance Balls and [an] Egg shaped burner’. The mention of the ‘egg-shaped burner’ confirms that it was a gas lamp by that date.

The position of the front door of No. 13 was altered several times during Soane’s lifetime. In the early to mid-1820s it was on the outer plane of the porch and incorporated a ‘fan light lantern’, supplied by William Mathews in October 1823. This would have been an oil lamp as first gas supply to No. 13 is recorded in 1828.

This lantern must have been purchased some time between 1823 and September 1827 when Soane paid William Mathews £4.5s for ‘cleaning and bronzing a 13 in square lantern, new top and re-glazing’. The same bill includes small sums for cleaning and bronzing the pulleys, chain and side balls and for supplying four feet of strong copper chain, ‘tin’d and bronzed’.

This was one of only two gas fittings in the house at the time of Soane’s death, both external (in common with many others Soane did not install gas internally, presumably because of the smell). The other gas lamp was in the Monument Court (the central courtyard), fixed to the north window sill and intended to light Soane’s ‘pasticcio’, a 23- foot high column of architectural fragments. This lamp was supplied and installed by John Archer in 1828 as part of the first gas installation. 1

After Soane’s death the porch lantern was removed and only reinstalled in its original position in 1872. In 1966-67 it was repaired by Kenneth Turner of the metalwork department at the Victoria and Albert Museum who added strengthening solder in some areas; he replaced two missing feet and made a new door catch.

1 Archive 7/11/23 bill from John Archer. The original lamp does not survive.

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