Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dance, George (1700-1768)

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The ODNB gives date of birth as c.1694.

DANCE, GEORGE, the elder (1700–1768), architect, was surveyor to the corporation of London, and designed the Mansion House and many of the churches and public buildings of the city during the earlier half of the eighteenth century. Of the first named, begun in 1739, the story is told that an original design of Palladio's was submitted to the common council by Lord Burlington, a zealous patron of art, but was rejected by the civic authorities in favour of Dance's design, on the ground of Palladio being a papist, and not a freeman of the city! Dance is said to have been originally a shipwright, and is thought by the satirical author of the ‘Critical Review,’ &c., never to have lost sight of his original calling. But the Mansion House has served its purpose as well probably as if Palladio had been its architect, and may still be admired for its stately monumental effect, whatever may be thought of the clumsiness of detail which it exhibits in common with other buildings of the time. As Telford says of it, ‘it is grand and impressive as a whole, and reflects credit upon its architect.’ Among Dance's other works may be mentioned the churches of St. Botolph's, Aldgate, built in 1741–4; St. Luke's, Old Street; St. Leonard's, Shoreditch; and the old excise office, Broad Street. His works, with the exception of the Mansion House, exhibit small architectural merit. A collection of his drawings is in the Soane Museum. He died on 8 Feb. 1768, and was buried in St. Luke's, Old Street. He was the father of the more famous architect, George Dance [q. v.], who designed Newgate prison, of the well-known painter, Nathaniel Dance, afterwards Sir N. Dance-Holland [q. v.], and of the comedian, James [q. v.], who assumed the name of Love.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Bryan's Dict. of Artists; Ralph's Critical Review of the Public Buildings, Statues, and Monuments in and around London and Westminster, London, 1783.]

G. W. B.