Our oil paintings are now available on the BBC's Your Paintings website - please visit to see the work undertaken collating the nation's collection by the Public Catalogue Foundation.
The glories of the Soane collection are the three Canalettos (Riva degli Schiavoni, The Rialto Bridge from the North and Piazza S. Marco) and two series of Hogarth paintings, A Rake’s Progress and An Election. Canaletto’s Riva was described by the late J.G. Links, the world’s leading expert on Canaletto, as amongst the finest half-dozen Canalettos in existance and the Hogarths represent two of the three surviving series of ‘modern moral subjects’ painted by Hogarth (the other is in the National Gallery).
During the 1820s and 1830s Soane collected works by contemporary artists, many specially commissioned, in order to encourage a British School of painting. Other collectors shared the same desire to patronize British art: John Durno had created the Shakespeare Gallery in the late 18th century (its contents were auctioned in 1805; Soane bought two pictures) and the painter Henry Fuseli attempted a ‘Milton Gallery’ in the early 1800s. Sir John Leicester opened his Gallery of British Art to the public from 1818. Soane’s taste was shared by private collectors like Richard Payne Knight and Thomas Hope. None of these collections of British art survive. Soane’s collection epitomises Regency taste, with its predominance of Shakespearean and historical scenes. The collection also contains portraits of Napoleon by Isabey and Cossia: the latter a rare early portrait.
Important paintings include:
William Hogarth, A Rake’s Progress; An Election more >>
Canaletto Riva degli Schiavoni, A view of St. Mark’s Square and The Rialto Bridge.
Antoine Watteau Les Noces.
Samuel Scott View on the River Thames.
Sir Augustus Wall Callcott The Passage Point and A view on the Thames at Greenwich.
J.M.W. Turner Val D’Aosta and Kirkstall Abbey (watercolour) & Admiral Van Tromp’s Barge entering the Texel (oil).
Sir Joshua Reynolds The Snake in the Grass.
Sir Thomas Lawrence Portrait of Sir John Soane.
William Beechey Portrait of Sir Francis Bourgeois
William Owen Portrait of John Soane and Portrait of John and George Soane
Charles Lock Eastlake Una delivering the Red Cross Knight from the Cave of Despair.
Henry Howard Lear and Cordelia, The Vision of Shakespeare and The story of Pandora’s Box (the latter a series of ceiling paintings which Howard described as my monument).
Henry Fuseli Ezzelier Count of Ravenna musing over the body of Meduna, slain by him.
Richard Westall Milton dictating to his daughters.
James Durno A scene from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Richard Hamilton Richard II landing at Milford Haven (after Shakespeare).
Edward Bird The Cheat Detected.
Clara Maria Pope The Flowers of Shakespeare.
Sir Francis Bourgeois Mr. Kemble as Coriolanus
William Hilton Marc Anthony reading Caesar’s Will (after Shakespeare)