October 20, 2015

I absolutely love London and was there a few weeks ago for London Design Week and I always go to Sir John Soane's Museum - the worlds best private home museum of architectural antiquities.

Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was an English architect who specialized in the Neo-Classical style.  He was considered one the most inventive architects of his time and his extraordinary house-museum exemplifies his originality. If you are wondering what a 'house-museum' is, it is exactly that: Sir John, through his passion for architecture, turned his property into a museum, that showcases his vast architectural collection. Developed from three properties, in the London district of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Sir John Soane’s Museum houses his collection of artefacts, plaster casts and also his large collection of more than 7000 books. Tim Knox, author of “Sir Jonn Soane’s Museum, London,” describes the collection as  “extraordinary accumulations and arrangements,” and, "hardly typical for an architect-collector of his era… Most architects, if they could afford it, formed small working collections of drawings, models and casts to assist them with their designs.” Sir John, unlike the typical architect of his time, accumulated large plaster models and antique structures. This blog features some my favourite rooms and collections at the museum. 

See below the different spaces that house the various collection pieces. 

LeftThe narrow arch opening looking west through the South Passage. The cast of a bull’s head is the centrepiece of the space.  Right: The Monk’s Yard looking towards Fanny’s tomb. This underwent comprehensive restoration in 2005. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. By Tim Knox, 2008) 

LeftDetail of the octagonal lantern above the domed Breakfast Parlour. These are set with panels of Flemish stained glass.   Right: The Picture Room with the panes half open to reveal the Picture Room Recess. The architectural model at the feet of the statue of the Nymph is Soane’s design for the south front of the Bank of England. Golden light filters down from a lantern glazed with yellow glass. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. By Tim Knox, 2008) 

I love the large plaster models, busts and antique structures. Have a look at some of my favourites below:

LeftA plaster cast of the Apollo Belvedere. This statue was once the property of the famous 3rd, or ‘architect’, Earl of Burlington, and was given to Soane in 1811. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, By Tim Knox, 2008)                                          Right: A Roman bust of an elaborately coiffed woman catches a beam of sunlight. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, By Tim Knox, 2008) 

LeftSir Francis Chantrey’s bust of Sir John Soane surrounded by cinerary urns and sculptural fragments. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, By Tim Knox, 2008)                                                                                                                                                 Right: A plaster cast of William Sievier’s bust of Sir Thomas Lawrence surveys the Dome area. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, By Tim Knox, 2008) 

 The Students’ Room looking north, showing the extensive collection of casts of Classical architectural ornament. ( Sir John Soane’s Museum, London,  By Tim Knox, 2008) 

The Students’ Room looking north, showing the extensive collection of casts of Classical architectural ornament. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, By Tim Knox, 2008) 

LeftAn early twentieth-century photograph (1924) showing a new extension to the museum - the Picture Room. New display’s such as this, destroyed Soane’s carefully juxtaposed arrangements of artefacts in his museum. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London. By Tim Knox, 2008)                                                                                                                                                              Right: One of many fragments of antique decorations that adorn the walls of Sir John Soane’s Museum. (Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, By Tim Knox, 2008) 

The inspiration of Sir John's museum led me to create a feature wall in a three storey townhouse in midtown Toronto. Our challenge in this project was to add architectural interest in an in-distinguished townhouse. We achieved this by designing classical, custom doors, new door hardware, fireplace mantel and even a new iron railing. But what I loved the most is this small collection featured in their living room. It is a small but significant tribute to the inspiration I draw from Sir John Soane’s Museum.

Check out more images of this three storey townhouse on our online portfolio which can be found on our website! http://www.caseydesignplan.com/contemporary-mid-town/

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AuthorTheresa Casey