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Sir John Soane, 1753–1837

Sketch of a Half-Facade for a Royal Palace, Hyde Park, London

Additional Title(s):

Facade of a Design for a Royal Palace, Hyde Park, London

ca. 1779
Materials & Techniques:
Brown wash, gray wash, pen and brown ink, and graphite on medium, moderately textured beige wove paper
Sheet: 3 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches (8.9 x 21.6 cm)

Signed in graphite, lower center: "Sir J. Soane"

Inscribed in graphite, lower center, "Palace @ Sketch of [...] J Soane"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawing & Watercolors-Architectural
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | chimneys (architectural elements) | columns | domes | doors | palace | pediments | stairs
Associated Places:
England | Hyde Park | London | United Kingdom
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IIIF Manifest:

Similarly to painters of the period who depicted imaginary landscapes, Sir John Soane and his colleagues invented ideal structures was combined with the influence of architectural fantasies by Piranesi to allow architect-draftsmen to give free expression to the visual vocabulary of ancient architecture. They imagined grand structures for London and the new Rome. Soane conceived of this design while working in Rome, and in his memoirs he describes is as a mix of ancient Roman and Italian Renaissance sources, part Pantheon, part Villa Farnese. Here he uses the popular neoclassical forms of the domed roods and the Corinthian pilasters in his fanciful sketch of a Royal Palace for Hyde Park. The pedimented temple façade and tall dome mark the center of the structure, and he includes the right wind in his depiction. Soane commissioned his chief architectural draftsman Joseph Michael Gandy to depict his structure in a perspective watercolor (Soane Museum, London). Gandy, an architectural draftsman like Thomas Malton (cat. 129), specialized in the perspectival depiction of imagined, ideal structures of his own or other's invention, as well as acting as chief draftsman for Soane's architectural practice. He was a frequent and popular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, an indication of the increasing acceptance of architectural drawings as works of art as well as utilitarian documents.

Gillian Forrester

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 146 cat. no. 124

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

British Architectural Drawings (Yale Center for British Art) (Yale Center for British Art, 1982-04-21 - 1982-05-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Pierre de la Ruffinière du Prey, John Soane's architectural education [PhD Dissertation, Princeton University], Princeton, 1972, pp. 145-9, Film B62 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 146, no. 124, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Eric R. Wolterstorff, British architectural drawings, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 1982, p. 23, no. 34, V 0251 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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