At the Soane Museum

Peter Campbell

Joseph Gandy (1771-1843) was an architect. More important, he was also a painter of architectural fantasies and reconstructions of historical architecture. These are precisely drawn, dramatically lit, strange, scholarly and elaborate. He wrote many, mainly unpublished and unpublishable pages of speculation about the origin of architectural styles and their relation to man, nature and the gods. He was an expert draughtsman whose main income came from rendering the designs of others, or rather of one other: John Soane, who first employed him as a draughtsman and later gave him individual commissions and other financial support. He seems to have been difficult and touchy. He had trouble making enough money to keep himself and a large family, and died demented, incarcerated in an ill-run asylum.

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[*] Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £40, March, 0 500 34221 0.