After study with George Dance, the younger, he won a fellowship to Rome. He toured Italy and returned in 1780 to begin his practice in England. In 1788 he was chosen to succeed Sir Robert Taylor as architect for the Bank of England, his largest and most important work. Among other works are the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Pitzhanger Manor at Ealing, and his own residence at Lincoln's Inn Fields, now known as the Soane Museum, which he bequeathed as a museum for his collections. He devoted his later years to teaching architecture and delivering lectures. Although one of the leaders of the classic revival in England, he went beyond the mere imitation of classical models generally prevalent and evolved a highly individual style through an imaginative and flexible use of Greek and Roman motifs. He became a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1802 and was knighted in 1831.
See studies by John Summerson (1952), Pierre Du Prey (2 vol., 1977-82), and Dorothy Stroud (1984).
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