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English Baroque Drawings: architecture, sculpture and garden design

Welcome to the online catalogue of English Baroque Drawings from the collection of Sir John Soane.


The English Baroque Drawings have been catalogued by Dr Gordon Higgott, with generous financial assistance from the Getty Grant Program and English Heritage. The author gratefully acknowledges advice received during the preparation of this catalogue from Dr David Esterly, Dr Anthony Geraghty, Dr Adam White, Mr Geoffrey Fisher, Mrs Jill Lever, and the late Sir Howard Colvin.

Drawings for architecture, monumental sculpture and garden design from the English Baroque period, 1660s to 1720s. The subject matter is grouped in six folders:

Greenwich Royal Hospital
Hampton Court Palace
Designs for other buildings, gardens and interiors
Designs for monumental sculpture
Miscellaneous designs and groups of drawings
Report by Peter Bower on paper and watermarks

Most of the research and writing of the catalogue was undertaken in 2005-06. It was first published online in 2007, and was enlarged with additional entries and images in December 2009. In November 2013 Dr Higgott edited and revised parts of the catalogue, adding larger images and seven new entries. Between April and November 2016 he revised the section on Greenwich Royal Hospital.

The catalogue contains 216 drawings from the English Baroque period for architecture, monumental sculpture, garden design and interior design. It embraces the work of almost every major architect and garden designer active between the 1660s and 1720s, and covers a wide range of types, from survey plans to designs for monumental sculpture. The most notable groups of drawings are for two major building complexes of the English Baroque: Greenwich Royal Hospital (1694-1751) and Hampton Court Palace (remodelled 1689-1702). They came from the office and wider circle of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) and entered Soane’s collections in three bound volumes between 1817 and 1833:

1. Volume 109. 'The Greenwich Hospital Album': a very large folio presented to Soane by the architect C.H. Tatham in 1833. It contains 58 drawings from every stage of the design and construction of the Greenwich Royal Hospital for Seamen, founded by William and Mary in 1694. Amongst these are 29 record drawings and final-stage designs from the office of Thomas Ripley (Surveyor, 1629-1758) which date mainly from the mid-1730s. The volume also contains two plans by Nicholas Hawksmoor for Blenheim Palace, c.1705 (109/59, 63), and a design by Hawksmoor for a monumental clock in honour of the Duke of Marlborough, dated 23 October 1704 (109/74).

2. Volume 110. 'The Hampton Court Album' (now partly disbound): the finest surviving group of drawings for the partial rebuilding of Hampton Court Palace between 1689 and 1702 for William III and Queen Mary II (died 1694). It was recorded in the sale of Sir Christopher Wren’s library and drawings in 1749 and was given to Soane by his former pupil George Dance the Younger in 1817. It contains 65 sheets of sketch and finished designs for the palace, its gardens and interiors, including the largest single corpus by Grinling Gibbons (39 sheets), and one stray fragment of a design by Hawksmoor for rebuilding Whitehall Palace after the fire in 1698.

3. Volume 111. 'The Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones Album': it was in Soane’s collection by 1831 and its 72 drawings are now separately mounted. They include two important groups for Hampton Court Palace and Greenwich Hospital and examples by many of the leading architects and designers of the English Baroque period, including Robert Hooke (1635-1703), Edward Pearce the younger (c.1635-95), William Talman (1650-1719), Henry Wise (1653-1738), Nicholas Hawksmoor (c.1661-1735), Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726), William Dickinson (c.1671-1725), Sir James Thornhill (c.1675-1734), and James Gibbs (1682-1754). Twelve drawings bear marks or inscriptions by the collector and designer John Talman (1677-1726), eight of these being designs by his father William Talman, Wren’s colleague and rival in the Royal Office of Works. Not catalogued here are twelve drawings of late 16th- to late 17th-century date in Italian, Dutch or Flemish hands (111/1, 37, 38, 54, 56, 57, 58, 63, 67, 69, 70).

Included in the catalogue by November 2013 are 39 additional drawings for architecture, garden and interior design from the English Baroque period, dispersed amongst five drawers and four volumes in the Museum. Five in one drawer (69, folder 1) belong to a group acquired by the Soane Museum's curator Arthur Bolton in 1931. The drawings are mostly attributable to the same hands as those represented in the volumes 109-111, exceptions being single drawings attributable to Nicholas Stone (c.1587-1647) and Charles Bridgeman (1690-1738), and a group of three from the office of William Benson (1682-1754):

Drawers: 36/3/1-4: survey drawings of Hampton Court Palace, c.1699-1713, mostly by Henry Wise; 43/9/1-2: designs for arrangement of pistols as Hampton Court Palace; 62/1/1: survey of Whitehall Palace and St James's Park; 2: design for Claremont garden by Charles Bridgeman, 1720s; 6-8: designs for rebuilding St James's Palace, c.1718, probably by William Benson; 62/4/1: survey of Westminster for George II's coronation, 1727; 69/1/10: design for Blandford Forum town hall by Sir James Thornhill, 1733; 11: design for ceremonial arch, c.1660, in an unidentified hand, probably Dutch; 12: theoretical study of temple portico, based on Pantheon in Rome; 17: elevation of St Martin-in-the-Fields by James Gibbs, 1725; 18: design attributed Henry Wise for a wilderness garden at Lumley Castle, County Durham, early 1720s.

Volumes: vol. 26, fols 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17: 6 reconstruction drawings of the Pantheon in Rome in James Gibbs's notebook, datable to 1740s; vol. 146: Fauntleroy Pennant, vol. I fo. 251, design by Gibbs for the Duke of Newcastle's monument at Westminster Abbey, c.1721; vol. 148: Fauntleroy Pennant, vol. III, no. 45, design attributable to Nicholas Stone for the York Water Gate, London, c.1626; no. 75, survey of Savoy Palace by Nicholas Hawksmoor, c.1692, from 'Book of Court Orders'; and sketch of the Savoy by Wenceslas Hollar, c.1640s-50s; vol. 165: Wren's 'Book of Court Orders', 7 drawings, fols 117, 110v, 132, 132v-134, 148, 156, 159; and vol. 166: Blenheim Palace account book, fo. 6, early plan for the palace in the hand of Henry Joynes, 1705.
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