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  • image SM volume 111/4

Reference number

SM volume 111/4


[2/2] Perspective presentation drawing of a design for an enlarged hospital with a central domed hall and chapel range, datable 1695


Bird's-eye perspective, looking south


About 24 feet to 1 inch across front elevation

Signed and dated

  • Undated, but datable May to September 1695

Medium and dimensions

Pen with brown and grey inks and grey washes over graphite under-drawing, with additions in graphite; ruled brown ink frame, on laid paper, reinforced on verso with modern tissue and a canvas repair strip; vertical folds in centre and in the centres of each half, allowing the sheet to be folded to half its width, opening at the centre; sheet trimmed around ruled ink frame; 478 x 695


Leonard Knyff


In pencil in a c18-19 hand, Gard


Strasbourg Lily / 4WR; countermark: DS


Numerous differences between this and Knyff's initial perspective drawing at [2/1] indicate a revision of the design following the production of the large-scale front and side elevations at All Souls (Geraghty 2007, nos. 190-92). Wren and Hawksmoor have redesigned the transverse hall ranges that join the ends of the quadrant colonnades. On [2/1] these rectangular blocks have curve-shaped roofs and rise from the fronts of the colonnades. Now, they are set back behind loggias and raised in height by a tall balustraded attic which matches that of the King Charles II Building.

Further changes, based partly on details of the All Souls drawings and partly on the plan at [2/3], are: (1) the lowering of the pitches of roofs of the north and south pavilions of the King Charles II Building and its pendant range, and the addition of chimney stacks (reflecting the positions of chimney breasts on the plans of these pavilions in [2/3]); (2) the removal of chimney stacks to the rear roofs of the main blocks of these two buildings and the addition of stacks to the roofs of the base blocks (a correction of the first perspective); (3) the correct rendering of the applied order on the north elevations of these two buildings as three-quarter columns rather than pilasters (although the orders on their main fronts, facing the central courts, are still shown incorrectly as pilasters); (4) the addition of a second arched opening in the north-facing return elevations of the central ranges, between the outer and the inner courts, an amendment also found on the All Souls front elevation (G. 190) and on the small-scale revised front elevation at [2/4], where in both cases the two openings are square-headed rather than arched; (5) the redesign of the front embankment wall with smaller, more regular stone blocks and with a parapet of railings set on a low wall rather than a high wall without railings. Knyff has completed the background of his bird's-eye perspective without proper regard for the topography of Greenwich Park. The Royal Observatory is inaccurately drawn and placed on a hill that falls away to the east rather than continuing as an escarpment. Further east, One Tree Hill is omitted altogether.


Soane: Connoisseur & Collector, 1995, cat. no. 10; Wren Society, VI, p. 85, top
F. Sands, Fanciful Figures: people in architectural drawings, 2024, pp. 4-5



Exhibition history

Soane: Connoisseur & Collector, Sir John Soane's Museum, London, 6 April - 2 September 1995; The Frick Collection, New York, 30 April - 7 July 1996
Europe and the English Baroque: Architecture in England 1660-1715, V&A + RIBA Architecture Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1 May - 9 November 2009
Building a Dialogue: The Architect and the Client, Sir John Soane's Museum, London, 17 February - 9 May 2015

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

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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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