The Soane Museum
13, Lincoln's Inn Fields,WC2
The Soane Museum is one of the most remarkable and densely-packed exhibitions of antiques and curios to be found anywhere in London.
Paintings, gems, bronzes, manuscripts and marbles litter the rooms, halls and stairways of this lovely 18th century town house, which is tucked away in a quiet square between High Holborn and Fleet Street.
Once the home of Sir John Soane, who designed the Bank of England, 13, Lincoln's Inn Fields is a monument to one man's obsession with art and architecture. And what a marvellously eccentric collection it is!
From Canaletto's sparkling view of the Grand Canal at Venice through to the alabaster coffin of Pharaoh Seti I (father of Rameses the Great), nothing of beauty or antiquity escaped Sir John's notice. Every possible corner is crammed with 'finds' that he couldn't resist, snapped up in the sales rooms or imported from far off lands.
Of the thousands of items that Sir John acquired in this way between 1792 and 1837, some of the most notable are the first three folio editions of Shakespeare printed in 1623, Sir Christopher Wren's original drawings of Greenwich and Hampton Court and Sir Joshua Reynolds' two sketch books of drawings made in Rome. There is also a fine series of Hogarths to be found here, four of which - a witty and cutting commentary entitled 'An Election' - were bought at the sale of the actor David Garrick's effects
The Soane Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday not including Bank Holidays. Entrance is free, although visitors are requested to make a donation.
Access to the Library, the collections of Drawings and Manuscripts, the Archives and the Model Room can be arranged through the Head Warder or by calling: 0207-405-2107.
Holborn (Central & Piccadilly lines)
Copyright © Jan Collie 2002
Published on Britannia by permission of the author.
All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission.