In this online lecture, Dr Frances Sands, Curator of Drawings and Books, will explore Sir John Soane’s extraordinary collection of Royal Academy lecture drawings.
In 1806, the architect Sir John Soane was elected Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in London. At that time, this was the only place in England offering a formal education in architecture. To fulfil his responsibilities, Soane compiled 12 lectures detailing the story of the world’s architecture and offering his opinions on the best and worst examples of the craft. As the Napoleonic Wars raged, it would have been impossible for Soane’s Royal Academy students to travel and experience the buildings of other countries, as Soane himself had done in the 1770s. So, to address this significant failing in his students’ education, Soane philanthropically commissioned his architectural office to create more than 1,000 exquisite, large-scale lecture drawings, showing significant buildings from throughout history and from across the world. The drawings illustrated Soane’s lectures, but furthermore they provided a virtual Grand Tour for students who would otherwise have been unfamiliar with key international architectural forms. Soane’s Royal Academy lecture drawings are the earliest known attempt at a graphic history of world architecture and are one of the most innovative pedagogical efforts of early modern Britain.
This lecture is part of the BBC’s Art that Made Us Festival.
Book your free tickets now and you will be sent a Zoom link in advance of the event.
Image: Soane office, Royal Academy lecture drawing showing a bird’s-eye view of Stonehenge, Wiltshire, 1817, SM 24/9/1. Photograph: Ardon Bar-Hama. ©Sir John Soane’s Museum, London.