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John Yenn RA, Student design for a villa with two domes: elevation

Student design for a villa with two domes: elevation, 1769

John Yenn RA (1750 - 1821)

RA Collection: Art

This drawing is Yenn's acceptance work to gain entrance to the newly formed Royal Academy Schools. The Royal Academy of Arts had been founded by King George III in 1768. One of the principal forces behind its foundation had been the architect Sir William Chambers, who acted as the first RA Treasurer. John Yenn was one of his young apprentices in his office, and the most talented in architectural draughtsmanship, so it was natural that Chambers should sponsor Yenn's admission as one of the first pupils to the RA Schools.

On the back of the drawing, Chambers attests that the work is Yenn's; he also signs and dates it 22 August 1769. Yenn has backed his drawing with a sheet of plain paper, but carefully cut out around the inscription to leave it visible.

The design, probably set by Chambers, is for some type of villa or nobleman's mansion, both typical set pieces. The elevation shows a one-storey building lined with Ionic columns, raised on a platform, and of five bays. The outer bays, identical to one another, are approached by flights of stairs to large doors beneath porticoes that are crowned by circular domes pierced by round windows and topped by statuary. The middle bay has a single window and is flanked by bays with niches containing urns.

The draughtmanship is very skilled for a 19-year old and typifies a style that Yenn was to never stray far from throughout his long career. Almost every year he submitted such elevations, although usually with added landscape behind, to the annual Royal Academy summer exhibition.

Object details

Title
Student design for a villa with two domes: elevation
Artist/designer
John Yenn RA (1750 - 1821)
Date
1769
Object type
Architectural design
Medium
Pen with black ink, coloured washes in border of black, brown and pink washes
Dimensions

454 mm x 605 mm

Collection
Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
09/365
Acquisition
Given by Mrs. Augusta Thackeray 21 June 1865
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