Past Exhibitions

Raymond Erith (1904-1973): Progressive Classicist

An Exhibition in the Soane Gallery from 8 October to 31 December 2004

Sponsored by Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin

Sir John Soane's Museum is pleased to announce a new exhibition examining the work of Raymond Erith, one of the most accomplished and original English architects of the last century. Raymond Erith: Progressive Classicist will take a fresh look at Erith's extraordinary body of work, bringing together the best of his drawings with a series of stunning new photographs.

Raymond Erith occupies an unusual position in the history of British architecture. Like his great hero, John Soane, he did not always follow the prevailing stylistic currents of his age. He also shared Soane's belief in 'progressive classicism', deciding not to reject tradition but draw creatively on its accumulated wisdom. Although in sharp contrast to the work of many of his contemporaries, Erith's architecture, with its subtle use of natural materials, meticulous (sometimes playful) detailing and skilled craftsmanship earned him wide respect and admiration. His work ranges from small houses to public buildings, such as the library and quadrangle at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford; Jack Straw's Castle on Hampstead Heath and the New Common Room Building at Gray's Inn, London. The best known of his many restorations was the reconstruction of 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street.

Erith was a superb draughtsman and a selection of fine drawings, produced for the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibitions will be included in the exhibition. These will be augmented by a series of new photographs of Erith's work commissioned from the acclaimed architectural photographer Mark Fiennes.

This exhibition, curated by Lucy Archer, will not only provide the opportunity for a reassessment of Erith's architecture but it will also introduce his work to a new generation, too young to remember the exhibition which was held at the Royal Academy in 1976. During the thirty years since his death there has been a growing awareness of the continuing relevance of architectural tradition and there is much in the skilful blending of classical and vernacular in Erith's work to inspire designers of the twenty-first century.

Raymond Erith: Progressive Classicist will be accompanied by a lavish 80-page colour catalogue featuring essays by Lucy Archer, Ken Powell and George Saumarez Smith.

Catalogue available from Museum shop