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  • image SM (1) P267

Reference number

SM (1) P267


Presentation drawing of the Bank as a cutaway axonometric, by J.M. Gandy, 1830


1 Aerial sectional view of the Bank of England from the south-east

Signed and dated

  • 1830


Joseph Michael Gandy (1771-1843)


Soane exhibited Gandy's watercolour at the Royal Academy in 1830, towards the end of his 45-year career at the Bank of England. The view shows the the full extent of his work for the Bank and depicts the intricacy of plan resulting from the numerous building campaigns. It is also a poetic gesture of the building's, and the institute's, timelessness and monumentality. In the drawing, the Bank of England has joined the celebrated monuments of Antiquity. As Daniel Abramson writes, 'The view inventively conflates conventions of the Renaisssance aerial cutaway perspective with the eighteenth-century Piranesian ruinscape to create an image of the Bank of England ambiguously both in ruins and under construction' (op.cit. p.222).

This drawing was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1830 under the title A Bird's-eye View of The Bank of England. It only became known under the colloquial title of The Bank in Ruins after Soane's death.


D. Abramson, 'The Bank of England' in M. Richardson & M. Stevens (eds), John Soane architect: master of space and light, Royal Academy of Arts, 1999, pp. 222, cat. 119. Visions of Ruin, Architectural fantasies & designs for garden follies, catalogue of an exhibition at Sir John Soane's Museum, 1999, catalogue 35 (catalogue entry for this drawing by Christopher Woodward)



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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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