By MICHAEL CAINES
As mentioned by Mika Ross-Southall on this blog last month, the new exhibition at the Soane Museum surveys a morbid scene: if there is one architect who could inspire an exhibition entitled Death and Memory, it's Sir John Soane. Not content with imagining his Bank of England as a ruin, and commissioning Joseph Michael Gandy to depict such scenes for him, he turned his own house into a delirious reliquary, abounding in statuary and other fragments of antiquity, including several cinerary urns and an alabaster pharoanic sarcophaghus, through which to educate and overawe posterity.
But not Soane's own posterity – not the sons he had hoped would continue his work. Indeed, when his younger son George published two anonymous attacks on his father's architectural achievements, in 1815, Soane regarded them as his wife Eliza's "Death Blows"; she died a few weeks later, on November 22 that year. There was to be no Soane lineage of architects, at least not directly; instead, there is his museum. And there is also the remarkable mausoleum where some thirty people gathered on Monday to pay tribute to Eliza. . . .