Three to see: Sir John Soane's Museum
- Sir John Soane's Museum
- 26 June 2017
If you're short for time but still keen to explore the finalists for this year's Art Fund Museum of the Year, here's our quick guide to three must-see exhibits at each venue. Today we examine the treasures of Sir John Soane’s Museum.
Read our Q&A with Sir John Soane’s Museum to discover more about the venue, and visit Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 to find out more about the prize, the history, the judges and the rest of this year's finalists.
A Rake’s Progress
- William Hogarth’s epic eight-painting story
Neo-classical architect Sir John Soane turned his home into a gallery, and in the busy Picture Room you’ll find one of the most famous pieces in his collection: William Hogarth’s eight-painting series A Rake’s Progress. Depicting the rise and fall of fictional character Tom Rakewell, who inherits a fortune from his father, this epic story tracks his journey through vice, folly and eventually, Bedlam. Painted in 1733, the sequence can be seen as an early precursor to the storyboard.
Sarcophagus of King Seti (or Sety) I
- The final resting place of an Egyptian king
Discovered two centuries ago in 1817, this giant, 3,500-year-old alabaster sarcophagus was found in the largest hall of King Seti’s tomb, 350 feet into a cliff. Covered with inscriptions of religious figures and scenes, it is considered one of the most important objects ever found in Egypt, offering unique insight into the culture and beliefs of the XIXth dynasty. Points of interest include a depiction of the god Osiris as Judge of the Dead and, on the underside, an image of the sky-goddess Nut.
Model of Soane Tomb
- Soane’s tribute to his wife and an influential piece of design
If the tomb Soane designed for his wife Eliza looks familiar, that’s because it influenced fellow architect Giles Gilbert Scott’s creation of the London phone box. The iconic red booth takes its blueprint from Soane’s structure, which was raised over Eliza’s grave in the Old St Pancras churchyard in 1816. It’s said that Soane never got over his wife’s death, and he placed this model of the tomb close to his dining table as a permanent memento mori.