Soane's London

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Collections | Soane's London | Dulwich Picture Gallery

On 7 January 1811 Sir Peter Francis Bourgeois RA died, bequeathing to Dulwich College 360 paintings that he and his friend Noel Desenfans had collected. Bourgeois wanted the whole collection to 'go down to Posterity for the benefit of the Public'.

He also bequeathed £3,000 to the College. Most of this money was to go towards the construction of a suitable building for the art collection but Bourgeois also requested the building of a Mausoleum for himself, Noel Desenfans and, when the time came, Mrs Desenfans.

In his last testament Bourgeois recommended his friend, Soane, as the architect and Soane took the commission without a fee. The building that resulted – Dulwich Picture Gallery – was the first public picture gallery of its kind, famous for the innovative use of top-lighting.

Composite drawing

Composite drawing

Joseph Michael Gandy
Pen and coloured washes on paper, framed
P265 (Dulwich drawing 108)

This composite drawing, showing different aspects of Dulwich Picture Gallery, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1823 and has been hung in the North Drawing Room at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields since 1835. Some of the vignettes show the building that Soane would have liked to build had there been enough money. Some record the appearance of the building when it was first opened to the public.