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  • image SM P403

Reference number

SM P403


[10] Variant design exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1810


Desion No II (sic)


as above

Signed and dated

  • dateable to 1810

Medium and dimensions

Pen, sepia and raw Sienna washes, shaded on wove paper (100 x 166)


Robert Dennis Chantrell (1793-1872, pupil 1807-1814)


This drawing and SM P404 show variant designs - the larger of the two showing the opera house as having a hexastyle portico between pavilions on the front elevation and giant Corinthian colonnades on the sides. The second design has the same form but is articulated by a series of arches with an arcade with loggia above and arched windows to the pavilions. Two drawings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1810, under the title: 'Design for the Opera House proposed to be built on the site of Leicester House garden' (cat. 710 and 716). A further drawing '[Design for] the Opera house, etc' (cat. 832) was exhibited by Soane at the Royal Academy in the same year (A.Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: a complete dictionary of contributors and their work, from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, 1905, volume 4, p.201).

It is possible that only 'Design No.I' catalogued here was exhibited at the Royal Academy while 'Design No.II' is probably a reduced copy that has been mounted together with a view of Robert Smirke's theatre - of which Soane disapproved. This last was drawn on the top left-hand side of a sheet of wove paper measuring 215 x 707. Below this, Soane's design 'No.II' is stuck over a previous drawing that had upper and lower scrolled edges. The large drawing for the opera house is stuck on to the sheet and outlined with a broad black wash or ink border as are the two drawings to the left. The three drawings in one frame were made by a pupil (Robert Chantrell) and have been hung in various of Soane's rooms (including the Model Room). Recent, temporary de-framing shows that Chantrell (if it was he) used unrelated, discarded Soane office drawings (one dated 14 December 1810) as 'packing' material.

(SM P403) Exhib: (?) RA 1810, either No. 710, 716 or 832

(This drawing) Exhib: (?) RA 1810, either No.710, 716 or 832



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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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