- Museum number
Design for the cupola of St Paul's Cathedral, London; two half-sections, showing the relation of the inner and outer domes, the finial to the dome of the right-hand study is a ball supported by scrolls, each study has a scale, in the upper left-hand corner a sketch of a cherub's head (?), scroll and pendant drapery
Pen and brown ink over graphite
- Production date
Height: 213 millimetres
Width: 245 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Wren was occupied with finalising the development of the dome of St. Paul's between 1705-1706 and his earlier designs showed two 'skins', ie. an inner and an outer dome. This drawing shows him working on the insertion and construction of a third layer between the two domes; this was to become the brick cone which was to support the lantern and the weight of the outer, hemisperical, lead dome. The inner masonry dome, with its central opening is shown here in both these sections. The inscription in the lower left hand corner, is apparently in the hand of Ralph Thoresby who owned the drawing in the early 18th C.
The following entry was on the 'Explore' section of the BM website until September 2015:
The old St Paul's Cathedral, a medieval Gothic structure, burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. From the beginning, Wren (1632-1723) planned a dome over his new building, England's only cathedral built in the classical architectural tradition. He altered the shape and profile of the dome several times but it was not until around 1697 that the exact design for the dome was agreed; it was finally completed in 1710.
This free-hand drawing was made to show the relation of the inner and outer domes. The outer dome is supported on a massive, circular drum surrounded by giant columns. This lighter outer dome is built of timber covered with lead, hence its distinctive grey colour. It rests partly on the brick cone which rises from the inner dome. This cone, which rests on the supporting drum, also supports the crowning stone lantern, ball and cross which can be seen from the floor below, through the domes. The design of a dome within a dome, and supporting the heavy lantern via the cone to the drum, is a marvellous mix of design and engineering.
The famous dome dominates the City of London. It also marks the site of Wren's tomb. The Latin inscription on his tomb beneath the dome, reads: 'Si monumentum requiris, circumspice' ('If you are seeking his monument, look around you').
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1987 Feb 5 - May 25, BM, 'An A-Z of P&D'
2004 Sep-Dec, Sheffield, The Millennium Galleries, The Biggest Draw
2009 June-Sep, Oxford, Mus of History of Science, Compass and Rule
2010 Feb-May, New Haven, Yale Center Brit Art, Compass and Rule
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number