George Dance the Elder
Originally a mason, George Dance was appointed Clerk of the City works to the City of London. In 1734, shortly before taking up the post, he had won a major commission from the City, for the Mansion House, the new residence for the Lord Mayor. He was one of three architects—the others being James Gibbs and Giacomo Leoni—who had been invited to submit designs. His building has a grand portico, and an "Egyptian Hall", so called because it uses an arrangement of columns described as Egyptian by Vitruvius. It was completed in 1752.
He also designed the churches of St Leonard's, Shoreditch (1736–40), St Botolph's Aldgate (1741–44) and St Matthew's, Bethnal Green (1743–46). Further afield, Dance designed the Town Hall of Coleraine in Northern Ireland (1743; demolished in 1859).
Sir John Summerson included Dance in a list of London architects who he felt debased Palladianism, calling his Mansion House "cramped and overdressed".
He had five sons, three of whom enjoyed fame in their own right. Eldest son James Dance (1722–1744) became an actor and playwright connected with Drury Lane theatre. Third son Nathaniel Dance-Holland (1735–1811) was a notable painter. Fifth son George Dance the Younger (1741–1825) succeeded him as city architect. His grandson by James Dance was Nathaniel Dance, commodore of the fleets of the East India Company, and victor of the Battle of Pulo Aura.
Dance is buried in the churchyard of St Luke's Old Street, north of the City of London.
Gallery of architectural work
- Summerson, John (1962). Georgian London. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
- Summerson, John (1970). Architecture in Britain, 1530 to 1830. Pelican History of Art. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
- Jones, Edward; Woodward, Christopher (1992). A Guide to the Architecture of London (2nd ed.). London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. p. 285.