Drawing

18th century (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Somerset House was the largest British commission for a single building in the eighteenth century. The intention was to provide new accommodation for the Navy office and other, smaller, revenue-raising government offices that were scattered around London. The site was provided when in 1774 parts of the already dilapidated Somerset House collapsed and other parts threatened to follow. Plans were made for the construction of the offices and the embanking of the river by the Secretary to the Board of Works, William Robinson. Robinson died suddenly in October 1775 and Chambers was appointed. Only three quarters of Chambers's scheme was built.

Chambers was born in Sweden and died in London. He travelled widely, visiting China, and studied architecture at the Ecole des Arts, Paris, from 1749 and in Italy from 1750 to 1755. Many of his drawings from this period are contained in his important 'Franco-Italian' album, held in the V&A. Chambers moved to London in 1755 and published his influential Treatise on Civil Architecture in 1759. Chambers demonstrated the breadth of his style in buildings such as Gower (later Carrington) House and Melbourne House, London, in such country houses as Duddingston, Scotland, and in the garden architecture he designed for Wilton House, Wiltshire, and at Kew Gardens. He became head of government building in 1782, and in this capacity built Somerset House, London.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pencil
Brief Description
Full-size sketch of an oak-leaf festoon at Somerset House; William Chambers.
Physical Description
Full-size sketch of an oak-leaf festoon at Somerset House.
Dimensions
  • Height: 324mm
  • Width: 161mm
Style
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
Somerset House was the largest British commission for a single building in the eighteenth century. The intention was to provide new accommodation for the Navy office and other, smaller, revenue-raising government offices that were scattered around London. The site was provided when in 1774 parts of the already dilapidated Somerset House collapsed and other parts threatened to follow. Plans were made for the construction of the offices and the embanking of the river by the Secretary to the Board of Works, William Robinson. Robinson died suddenly in October 1775 and Chambers was appointed. Only three quarters of Chambers's scheme was built.



Chambers was born in Sweden and died in London. He travelled widely, visiting China, and studied architecture at the Ecole des Arts, Paris, from 1749 and in Italy from 1750 to 1755. Many of his drawings from this period are contained in his important 'Franco-Italian' album, held in the V&A. Chambers moved to London in 1755 and published his influential Treatise on Civil Architecture in 1759. Chambers demonstrated the breadth of his style in buildings such as Gower (later Carrington) House and Melbourne House, London, in such country houses as Duddingston, Scotland, and in the garden architecture he designed for Wilton House, Wiltshire, and at Kew Gardens. He became head of government building in 1782, and in this capacity built Somerset House, London.
Bibliographic Reference
Snodin Catalogue Number: 711
Collection
Accession Number
7078:22

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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