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Sir John Soane

Sir John Soane, by John Jackson, 1828 -NPG 701 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Sir John Soane

by John Jackson
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
NPG 701

This portraitback to top

The portrait was commissioned by the British Institution and exhibited there in 1829: 254. The portrait of John Soane, R.A. Painted by order of the Directors of the British Institution, as one of its most liberal Benefactors. The same sittings were probably used for a slightly smaller portrait exhibited at the RA 1830 (308) and now in the Soane Museum, showing Soane at three-quarter-length in freemason's attire as Grand Superintendent of the Works. Jackson painted a companion portrait of Mrs Soane who had died in 1815, using sketches by Flaxman and Van Assen. A. T. Bolton describes NPG 701 as 'a poor portrait' (Arthur T. Bolton, The Portrait of Sir John Soane RA, 1927, p 440) but it is arguable that its easy informal pose and attractive expression is as convincing a likeness as the better-known Lawrence portrait of 1828 painted for Soane himself and still in the Soane Museum.
A drawing in the Bank of England although unattributed by them to any named artist may be a study for or from the NPG portrait. Although showing the sitter considerably younger in appearance it may have been 'adonised' by Jackson possibly as a result of criticism of his oil portraits.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length seated holding gold spectacles in right hand, a book to left inscribed: Lectures on architecture/delivered at the Royal Academy/by John Soane Esq RA. Dark crimson coat trimmed with brown fur, white collar, grey cravat, white shirt-frill; thin face beneath a rich brown wig, no eyebrows, golden brown eyes, smooth pink complexion, quizzical expression.

Provenanceback to top

Commissioned in 1828 for the Governors of the British Institution and presented by them to the National Gallery in 1839; transferred to the NPG in 1883.

Exhibitionsback to top

British Institution, 1829 (254); Third Exhibition of National Portraits, South Kensington, 1868 (107).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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