Design In Process

Sketching: drawing from real life

A page from Edwin Lutyens’s sketchbook for Munstead Corner

Sketches of Munstead Corner, 1891
Pen and watercolour on paper
Artist: Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens
© Victoria and Albert Museum Museum number E.1:1-1991


Sketching excursions were a central part of architectural education for most of the 19th century. These trips taught students to closely observe great architecture in the hope that a study of the past could improve their design work in the future. As an architect, Edwin Lutyens sketched as a method of presenting ideas to clients. By sketching his proposals in the same way he had captured existing buildings as a student, Lutyens gave his designs an atmosphere of age and history.

In 1891 Lutyens filled every page of this sketchbook with drawings and notes. This vignette was one of a series of studies Lutyens made for himself to help analyse the homes and gardens of Mustead Corner, where he would later build a private home. He uses watercolour to create an impression of depth through shadows and highlights. Underneath, the line drawing shows a garden detail. Sketches of small English country homes and gardens were a key part of Lutyens's early successes in designing summer cottages. 


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