THE ANTE-ROOM TO THE SCULPTURE GALLERY FOR SIR FRANCIS CHANTREY, RA, SCULPTOR AT 30 BELGRAVE PLACE, LONDON, Sir John Soane and Joseph Michael Gandy

THE ANTE-ROOM TO THE SCULPTURE GALLERY FOR SIR FRANCIS CHANTREY, RA, SCULPTOR AT 30 BELGRAVE PLACE, LONDON, Sir John Soane and Joseph Michael Gandy

c. 1753 to c. 1843 England

Offered by Charles Plante Fine Arts

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This depicts the ante-room added by Sir John Soane in 1830-31 to the private sculpture gallery of Sir Francis Chantrey, RA (1781-1841), at 30 Belgrave Place, now part of Buckingham Palace Road. Chantrey was famous for statues, busts, reliefs, and monuments commemorating nation-wide the great men of his own and Soane's day. In Soane's lectures, delivered as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy, he praised Chantrey along with Flaxman, Banks, and Nollekens. Chantrey and Soane were good friends, humbly born they achieved fortune as well as a knighthood and devoted their lives to the practice of their respective arts. Chantrey carved a superbly stern marble bust of Soane in 1827-28, which he presented to Soane in 1830 in exchange for his partially executed designs for 30 Belgrave Place. The bust occupies pride of place below the dome at Sir John Soane's Museum, of which Chantrey was one of the four life-trustees until his death in 1841.

This lovely and impressionistic drawing by Joseph Michael Gandy well conveys the mastery of light and shade which was related to Soane's response to the effects produced in Picturesque landscape. It is to the dazzling skills of Gandy, Soane's principal draughtsman, that we owe much of our understanding of Soane's brilliance as an architect, so many of his buildings, including 30 Belgrave Place, having been demolished. Since the majority of Gandy's views of Soane's buildings are in Sir John Soane's Museum, it is rare to find one on the market. In the museum there are related drawings for the ante-room as well as a lithograph by Soane's pupil, Charles James Richardson (1809-1871), giving the plan as well as a perspective view. In addition, the Victoria and Albert Museum holds two drawings for the windows and Richardson's drawing for the lithograph. Soane included the lithograph in the extra-illustrated edition, which he produced in 1832 of his Designs for Public and Private Buildings (p64, plLII, figs 3-4), first published in 1828.

It is characteristic of Soane that, even at the age of 78, he made several alternatives to this design but refused to allow any later considerations to stand in the way of introducing improvements to his initial concept. The house for which he created this subtle interior was built by Thomas Cubitt after 1826. Though a small space, just 17 feet by 12 feet 6 inches, the ante-room was typical of Soane's complex yet freely flowing spaces. A top-lit area with barrel vaults flanking the central dome, it had no less than three openings: from the drawing-room, the first-floor landing and from the gallery itself, in axis with the ante-room.

This significant commission recalls Soane's Cenotaph to Pitt in the National Debt Redemption Office, Old Jewry (1818-19), and is little known. It was not included in the major exhibition on Soane at the Royal Academy in 1999.
Private Collection London
Dimensions
Height 254.00 mm (10.00 inches)
Width 230.00 mm (9.06 inches)
Medium
Watercolour with pencil
Charles Plante Fine Arts

Charles Plante Fine Arts
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