Fanciful Figures at the John Soane Museum

May 15 2024

Image of Fanciful Figures at the John Soane Museum


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

I failed to spot that the John Soane Museum opened a new exhibition earlier in the spring. Entitled Fanciful Figures, the show draws special attention to the figures so often overlooked in 18th & 19th century architectural drawings.

According to the website:

The Georgians placed these figures, whether beautifully dressed, sociable or industrious, into their drawings to animate, add intrigue and enhance the aspirational appeal of their designs. They also played, and continue to play, an important role in indicating the scale and function of architectural elements and drawing attention to the special features of designs.

Just as architects today use staffage to help prospective buyers imagine a life in and around new developments, these historic scenes were created to market new possibilities to audiences. They have, therefore, taken on a new significance as a means of signalling shifts in style, demographics, work, and culture. Between the city traders and happy families, street-side boxing matches and children riding in dog-carts, the figures celebrated in this exhibition help piece together a vibrant picture.

The exhibition will run until 9th June 2024.

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