View of Sir John Soane's Breakfast Room looking south


The main feature of Sir John Soane’s Breakfast Room is the canopy-domed ceiling which seems to hang over the middle of the room. The shallow dome springing from a square base was one of Soane’s favourite motifs, so much so that he incorporated one into the design of his own family tomb. The shape of the tomb later inspired the design of the classic red telephone box.

According to Soane, ‘The views from this room into the Monument Court and into the Museum, the Mirrors in the Ceiling, and the Looking Glasses, combined with the variety of outline and general arrangement in the design and decoration of this limited space, present an almost infinite succession of those fanciful effects which constitute the poetry of Architecture.’ (Description…, 1832, p. 2; 1835, p. 54).

The objects that Soane chose for display in the Breakfast Room were mostly personal. They include two portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte (above the round frames between the two doors) and a pistol in a case which was reputed to have belonged to Napoleon. These items unusually commanded a lengthy explanation in the Description of the House and Museum on the North Side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields (1830 and 1832 editions).

Full title:
Description of the House and Museum, on the North side of Lincoln's Inn-Fields, the residence of Sir John Soane. [By Sir J. Soane.]
Watercolour / Pencil drawing
Charles James Richardson
© British Library
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The Description of the House and Museum of Sir John Soane

Article by:
Tom Drysdale
Antiquarianism, Town and city

Sir John Soane, an architect and avid collector of art and antiquities, spent years designing in his Lincoln's Inn Fields home and curating his collections within it. As Tom Drysdale highlights, an extra-illustrated volume in the British Library reveals how Soane's unique house-museum evolved.