John Soane, the son of a mason, was born in Reading in 1753. He trained as an architect under George Dance and was assistant to Henry Holland. After being awarded a travelling scholarship by the Royal Academy in 1777, Soane spent the next three years in Italy. Soane developed a Neo-Classical style and gained several important commissions including the Bank of England and the Dulwich College Art Gallery.
In 1806 Soane became a professor at the Royal Academy. Sir John Soane, who died in 1837, bequeathed his own house (12-14 Lincoln's Inn Fields) to the nation. It is now the Sir John Soane Museum and contains two famous series of paintings, Rake's Progress and The Election, by William Hogarth.