Collection online

drawing / architectural drawing

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1881,0611.203

  • Description

    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

    More 

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1632-1723
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 213 millimetres
    • Width: 245 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Content

        Inscribed by Ralph Thoresby in brown ink: "Sr.Chr: Wren's owne hand" and inscri bed: "For the Dome of St. Pauls Church" Verso: inscribed in grey (?) ink: "Sr Chr:Wr:n's."
  • 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').

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Binyon 1898-1907 1 bibliographic details
    • Croft-Murray 1960 2 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display (British Roy PII)

  • 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

  • Subjects

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1881

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    1881,0611.203

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 r-hand study is a ball supported by scrolls, each study has a scale, in the upper l-hand corner a sketch of a cherub's head, scroll and pendant drapery Pen and brown ink over graphite

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 r-hand study is a ball supported by scrolls, each study has a scale, in the upper l-hand corner a sketch of a cherub's head, scroll and pendant drapery Pen and brown ink over graphite

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: PDB475

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...