Lansdowne Legacy: the development of the Lansdowne Gallery an exhibition charting the history of the Lansdowne Sculpture Gallery at Sir John Soane’s Museum
20 October – 12 November 2016
The Sir John Soane’s Museum presents an exhibition of drawings charting the fascinating legacy and history of the Lansdowne Sculpture Gallery, one of the lost treasures of Regency time. Curated by Dr Elizabeth Angelicoussis, one of the leading experts on the Lansdowne Gallery, this exhibition will offer an unprecedented opportunity to discover the complex history of this significant collection through an array of original artworks.
William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1st Marquess of Lansdowne, amassed a fabulous collection of classical sculpture between the mid-1760s and the late 1790s. It was intended that these works should be displayed in a sculpture gallery specially designed in the north – west annex of Lansdowne House in Berkeley Square, in London, which had been built to designs by Robert Adam. Lord Lansdowne could not settle on a design for this important room and commissioned alternative schemes by six different architects. The Gallery was originally designed as a library by Adam; however Lord Lansdowne also wanted a sculpture gallery and debated between these two functions for years. Finally he opted for a design by George Dance the younger, which offered a compromise between the two. Lord Lansdowne did not live to see his marbles collection in situ and ultimately it was his second son, the 3rd Marquess, who commissioned the final scheme to designs by Robert Smirke in the early 19th century. The result was a magnificent room that revealed the true value of the Lansdowne marbles in the splendour of a specially designed gallery space.
The glory days of the Lansdowne House sculpture gallery lasted for just a little over a century, until 1930 – when, after the economic depression, the collection was auctioned at Christie’s. Lansdowne House itself was largely demolished to accommodate the Lansdowne Club, but the sculpture gallery still exists, albeit remodelled into a ballroom.
This display will use drawings from the Soane Museum’s collection, as well as facsimiles of drawings from elsewhere, and two loans courtesy of the Trustees of the Bowood collection.
Guest curator Dr Elizabeth Angelicoussis comments:
The history of the Lansdowne House Sculpture Gallery is exceptional because of the various proposals for its decoration, dating from Adam’s scheme in the late 1760s through to Smirke’s scheme of the 1810s. These chart the transition from the refined, elegant neo-classical style to the pared-down, powerful style of the Regency period.
Dr Elizabeth Angelicoussis’s forthcoming book Reconstructing the Lansdowne Collection of Classical Marbles will be published by Hirmer, Munich in the Spring of 2017.
Dr Frances Sands, Curator of Drawings and Books at Sir John Soane’s Museum comments:
This exciting pop-up exhibition has brought together the world-class expertise of our guest curator Dr Elizabeth Angelicoussis and some of the most beautiful drawings from among Sir John Soane’s collection. Here we have an opportunity to explore the complex history of the beautiful Lansdowne House sculpture gallery and the marbles it contained, which certainly comprised one of the most important sculptural collections ever amassed in Britain.
Exhibition: Dates: Address: Opening hours: Admission:
Lansdowne Legacy: the development of the Lansdowne Gallery
20 October – 12 November 2016
Sir John Soane’s Museum: 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP
Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. Last entry 4:30pm
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Notes to Editors
Sir John Soane’s Museum:
The architect Sir John Soane’s house, museum and library at No.13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields has been a public museum since the early 19th century. On his appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806, Soane (1753-1837) began to arrange his books, classical antiquities, casts and models so that students of architecture might benefit from access to them. In 1833 he negotiated an Act of Parliament to preserve the house and collection after his death for the benefit of ‘amateurs and students’ in architecture, painting and sculpture. Today Sir John Soane’s Museum is one of the country’s most unusual and significant museums with a continuing and developing commitment to education and creative inspiration. The museum is open free: Tuesday to Saturday inclusive, 10am-5pm. It is also open on the first Tuesday evening of each from 6-9pm. www.soane.org
Sir John Soane’s Museum is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) whose prime sponsor is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.