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  • image SM volume 59/103 'Miscellaneous / Drawings / of / Architectural / Designs'

Reference number

SM volume 59/103 'Miscellaneous / Drawings / of / Architectural / Designs'


Five-hour design for the Royal Academy Schools, 15 November 1774


Plan and elevation


bar scale of 1/8in to 1ft


N (paper label, bottom left hand side) and inscribed (pencil, by G. Bailey, curator 1837-1860) Qy Sketch of a design made at the Royal Academy / By Mr Soane 1776, when a competiter for the / the Gold Medal (?)

Signed and dated

  • datable to 15 November 1774

Medium and dimensions

Pen and sepia wash, pencil, shaded, on laid paper (356 x 245)




drawing presently stuck down and watermark not visible


A requirement for entry to the Royal Academy's Gold Medal competition was that candidates take a five-hour preliminary design examination (esquisse). A subject was chosen by lot and announced to the participating students who had then immediately to draw out their design on the set day (15 November 1774) and within the stated time. The 'N' marking Soane's drawing identified his entry which, with the Gold Medal subject (in 1774, this was a 'Design for a nobleman's town house, 1774' q.v.) was judged anonymously by a jury.
According to Nick Savage (Royal Academy librarian, discussion December 2005) no examples of briefs for these designs are known to have survived and the only available information comes from the relevant RA Council Minutes.

Jill Lever, November 2005


P. du Prey, John Soane's architectural education 1753-80, 1977, pp.69-72; P. du Prey, John Soane: the making of an architect, 1982, pp.74-5



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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

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.

Browse (via the vertical menu to the left) and search results for Drawings include a mixture of Concise catalogue records – drawn from an outline list of the collection – and fuller records where drawings have been catalogued in more detail (an ongoing process).