On Saturday I felt the need for to delve into some art and culture, and so decided to visit Sir John Soane’s Museum, which is somewhere I should have visited ages ago!
Sir John Soane, (1753–1837) was an English architect who specialised in the Neo-Classical style. His architectural works are distinguished by their clean lines, decisive detailing, careful proportions and skilful use of light sources. His best-known work is the Bank of England. The Sir John Soane’s museum is located in Soane’s original house at 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, close to Holborn tube station. Soane established the house as a Museum by means of an Act of Parliament in the conviction that ‘the study of classical principles of design should be the foundation of an architectural student’s education’.
Soane bought the house in 1792, and used it as his home and library, but also for the entertaining of potential clients. He eventually extended the house into two neighbouring houses to enable him to experiment with different architectural ideas, and also to house his growing collection of antiquities and architectural salvage, many of which he acquired on his ‘grand tour’ of Europe.
His aim was to display his collection so as to educate and inspire ‘Amateurs and Students in Painting, Architecture and Sculpture’. Some of the objects in Soane’s collection include the sarcophagus of the Egyptian King Seti I (carved out of a single piece of Egyptian alabaster), Roman bronzes from Pompeii, paintings by Canaletto, Hogarth and Turner and an ivory table and chair set of late 18th century origin, believed to have been seized from Tipu Sultan by the East India Company. The small Picture Room has a total of more than one hundred pictures, additional wall space being provided by the use of hinged screens. There are also 7,000 books and 30,000 drawings.
His interior designs include the ingenious use of mirrors to expand the apparent space. In the small breakfast parlour, Soane has used over 100 pieces of mirror, together with stained glass windows in skylights, to create ‘a succession of those fanciful effects which constitute the poetry of architecture’.
This museum is well worth a visit!