Death and Memory: Soane and the Architecture of Legacy, Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2, until 26th March 2016
This two-part exhibition looks at the theme of mortality in both Soane’s personal and professional lives.
Death and Memory looks at the death of his wife Eliza in November 1815 and the profound effect that it had on Soane for the remaining twenty-two years of his life. There is the design for his family tomb in the churchyard at St Pancras Old Church – and yes you would be correct in assuming this was an inspiration for the red telephone boxes still in use. There are also ‘sealed receptacles’ on show which are somewhat like time capsules. They were sealed up before Soane’s death with the instructions that there were to be opened on the 50th, 70th and 80th anniversaries of Eliza’s death. I shall leave you to discover for yourselves what they contained. Also there is the text – Crude hints towards a history of my house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields (1812) in which he imagines his house as a ruin to which visitors come and try and work out its original purpose.
The second part the Architecture of Legacy considers Soane’s professional role as an architect, including some of his own designs and those by architects such as William Chambers, John Flaxman, Piranesi and George Dance. The drawing by Soane for a proposed monument for the Duke of Wellington was executed just a month before the architect’s own death.