Joseph Michael Gandy was an English artist, architect and theorist who gained notoriety for luminous and imaginative paintings based on practical architectural designs. He remains known as one of the greatest illustrators of architecture in British history. In 1794, Gandy sailed to Italy as a young prodigy with a bright future at hand. Several years in Rome provided the artist with material for a lifetime of painting and architectural inquiry after visiting monuments, mausoleums, ruins, and catacombs.
Upon his return to London, Gandy came under the office of John Soane, one of the most prominent architects of the day. Gandy produced projections of Soane’s designs in a grandiose form complete with dramatic contrast and striking beams of light. Gandy stayed with Soane for years until opening his own business in 1809.
While Gandy did not succeed as an architect or entrepreneur, his painted works reflect a dramatic vision and technically apt use of two-point perspective as well as an astounding architectonic sensibility. Gandy often sourced material both thematic and aesthetic from Roman ruins paying homage to Piranesi and classical mythology in the school of Turner and John Martin while his use of color and the aesthetics of the sketch relate to the work of Constable and other 19th century greats.
Gandy died in a private asylum in Devon after being relocated by his family in 1839. The largest repository of his oeuvre remains in Pictures Room of Sir John Soane's Museum in London.