SOANE, John, Sir.


SOANE, John, Sir. Plans, Elevations and Sections of Buildings.

London, Messrs Taylor at the Architectural Library, 1788.


FIRST EDITION. Large folio. pp. [8], 11, 16 printed ll. + 47 leaves of plates. 47 etchings of buildings located in Norfork, Suffolk, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire and others. Slightly browning, offsetting to blank versos, texts a little foxed or toned at margins, scattered ink spots to outer blank margin of last few ll. A good copy in 1/4 C20 crushed blue morocco over marbled boards.

The first edition of this most interesting collection of designs for country houses designed by Sir John Soane (1753-1837) – a master of the Neoclassical style. Soane trained at the Royal Academy of Arts and, in 1778, was granted a travelling scholarship to study in Italy by King George III, to whom this work is dedicated. Among his major designs are those of the former Bank of England, rebuilt in 1833, the Dulwich College Picture Gallery, and his own house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, now the Sir John Soane Museum. The learned preface – ‘his first published text with a fairly lengthy introduction expressing the author’s philosophy of architecture’ (BAL) – was intended to showcase Soane’s knowledge of classical and Italian architecture, with quotations from Vitruvius and Alberti. He states, in his designs, he was ‘more anxious to produce utility in the plans than to display expensive architecture in the elevations’, with the buildings ‘to unite convenience and comfort in the interior distributions, and simplicity and uniformity in the exterior’. Ornaments should be ‘simple, regular in form and clear in outline, serving to emphasise the function and character of a building’ (Kruft, p.256). The 47 plates are purely architectural drawings, without scenery, and the featured buildings include Shottisham, near Norwich, Malvern Hall, Warwickshire, Chillington, in Staffordshire, Skelton Castle, in Yorkshire, Burn Hall, in Co. Durham, and the Parsonage at Saxlingham. The last plate shows the interior of a building proposed as a museum for the Dilettanti Society, which boasted Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick and Richard Payne Knight among its members.

BAL 3098; Archer 319.1; Berlin Kat I (1977) 2341; ESTC t101996; Harris 842; Lowndes III, p.2437. Not in Fowler or Millard. H.-W. Kruft, A History of Architectural Theory (1994).
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