Thomas Sandby RA (c.1723 - 1798)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

The architect and draughtsman Thomas Sandby was born in Nottingham. As a young man he and his brother Paul (1731 - 1809), later a renowned watercolourist, were apprenticed to a local land surveyor.

After the death of his father in 1742 Sandby moved to London, where he was engaged as military draughtsman in the Ordnance office. In 1746, he entered the household of William August, Duke of Cumberland (1721 - 1765). Sandby accompanied Cumberland on his campaigns in Scotland and the Netherlands, making military drawings.

In 1746 Cumberland was appointed Ranger of Windsor Great Park, and Sandby was employed to produce views of the grounds. These were sometimes made in collaboration with his brother Paul, both artists playing an important role in the development of watercolour painting in England.

Sandby moved back to London for between 1760 and 1765, and was active in its artistic world. He served on the committee of the newly formed Society of Artists in 1759, and in 1768 was a Founder Member of the Royal Academy. As the Royal Academy’s first Professor of Architecture Sandby delivered an annual series of lectures from 1770 until the end of his life.

In 1764 Sandby became Steward to the Duke of Cumberland and Deputy Ranger of Windsor Great Park. He made numerous plans for improvements and additions to the park and designed a number of private houses in the Windsor area. Little of Sandby’s architectural work has survived (his most-admired work, the Freemason’s Hall in Great Queen Street, London, was demolished in 1932) although his drawings reveal he was a neoclassical designer in the vein of Sir William Chambers (1723 - 1796).

Sandby died in Windsor in 1798, and was buried in the churchyard at Old Windsor. His obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine stated that “by his decease, the King has lost an honest and valuable servant, the neighbourhood of Windsor an inhabitant universally esteemed, and his family and friends one of the gentlest and best of human beings”.


Royal Academician

Foundation Member

Born: c.1723 in Nottingham

Died: 29 June 1798

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 10 December 1768

Professor of Architecture: 1768 - 1798

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Architecture

Works by Thomas Sandby in the RA Collection

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Works after Thomas Sandby in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Thomas Sandby in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

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