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Variant preliminary designs each ornamented with an acroterion enclosing a wreathed eagle, 2 and 4 November 1801 (5)


Within this grouping, drawings 161-163 are all dated 2 November 1801 and are in Soane's hand. The drawings are much later than the c. 1800 date of the previous 3 designs and show an alteration in ideas. Soane is clearly experimenting with the idea of including side gates, as drawings 161, 164 and 165 show.

The other altered feature is that of the scrolled acroterion which is introduced in drawing 161 on top of the piers, in drawings 162-163 is centralised above the gate and appears on all relevant subsequent drawings (up to drawing 180). Such acroteria were first introduced in February 1796 when George Dance (Soane's mentor) drew out for him details of three types. These had triangular, segmental and semicircular pediments, each with a single scroll on either side (SM volume 41/187-8). For Pitzhanger, Soane designed an oval 'pediment', and this was because he wanted it to enclose a sculpted eagle within an oval wreath. The result is inelegant but suits the semi-rustic character of the gateway.

Drawing 163 has two versions of a four-sided (triangular) pedimented cap to the gate piers, one with conventional ('proper') acroteria and one without. The same drawing introduces a detail beneath the cap that is Soane's version of 'toothing'. Toothing is the projection of alternate header bricks under a cornice or string-course or at eaves level. Soane's toothing is T-shaped and on two planes (or stepped). He uses it in many of the subsequent drawings, making it more emphatic and on three planes (drawings 169 and 174) and then (from drawing 178) discarding it.

Drawing 164 shows the same design as the previous three in more detail - a wreathed eagle is now included within the scrolled acroterion and a grey wash is used to indicate the flint piers. Side gates are pencilled-in. Drawing 165 follows drawing 164 closely and Soane's revision of a side gate is included again.



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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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Contents of Variant preliminary designs each ornamented with an acroterion enclosing a wreathed eagle, 2 and 4 November 1801 (5)