This book of essays, ‘The cloud-capped towers:’ Shakespeare in Soane’s Architectural Imagination, is published to coincide with an exhibition with the same title to be shown at Sir John Soane’s Museum (21 April to 21 October 2016) as part of the nationwide commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the death of the great English playwright William Shakespeare.
Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was a highly literary architect, who appears to have valued Shakespeare for the architectural pictures he conjured up, and also as a moral teacher. He had a deep knowledge of Shakespeare’s work, quoting (and misquoting) it often, notably in his Royal Academy lectures. His fascination with Shakespeare is evident both in his library and in the Shakespearian references throughout his house-museum, the most obvious being the Shakespeare Recess, a shrine to the bard on the staircase.
The four essays in this volume look at the influence of Shakespeare on Soane’s architecture, against the wider background of the eighteenth-century Shakespearean revival; at Soane as a ‘bardolator’ and bibliophile and at contemporary performance and theatre-going, with a particular focus on the plays seen by Soane and his wife Eliza.
The essays are illustrated by a number of illustrations in full colour, the majority drawn from Soane’s own collection.
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