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Turner visited Lincolnshire in the early autumn of 1798, in pursuance of a commission from Charles Anderson Pelham, 1st Baron Yarborough (1749–1823), to make views of James Wyatt’s mausoleum commemorating his wife, Sophia Aufrere (died 1786) on the Brocklesby estate near the village of Great Limber (see the entry for Tate D08277; Turner Bequest CXXI U). The mausoleum had been finished in 1792, to house Joseph Nollekens’s statue of Sophia and other sculptures.1 The evidence for Turner’s journey is provided by the artist Joseph Farington in his diary entry for 24 October 1798: ‘W. Turner called on me. – Has been in Lincolnshire at Lord Yarboroughs and made 3 drawings of his Mausoleum (designed by Wyatt.). Lord Yarborough has 8 Children.’2 This has always been understood to imply that Yarborough commissioned the views of the Mausoleum, and indeed he did acquire at least one, subsequently destroyed in a fire.3 However, in view of the fairly close relationship that existed between Turner and the Mausoleum’s architect, James Wyatt, it is possible that Wyatt himself prompted the work.
Turner took with him a sketchbook which has long been disbound; this and D05160–D05165 (Turner Bequest LXXXIII 2–7) are leaves from it. The Executors of the Turner Bequest do not seem to have recorded this book as an entity; it was evidently disbound at an early period, and only seven leaves from it are identified as having survived. There are no covers. Finberg nevertheless listed the pages as constituting a separate book, dubbed the ‘Brocklesby Mausoleum Sketch Book’,4 and recorded Ruskin’s annotation on the parcel containing the disbound leaves: ‘Pencil on W[hite]. Dirty. No value’.5 One leaf (D05163; Turner Bequest LXXXIII 5) bears the watermark ‘1797 | J Whatman’.
The present drawing is the only one surviving from the sketchbook to include any closely observed details of Wyatt’s structure, though, as is often the case with Turner’s architectural studies, portions have been allowed to stand for the whole. More distant views, (Tate D05162, D08277; Turner Bequest LXXXIII 4, CXXI U), show the architecture more completely, whereas Turner’s viewpoint here must be close to the top of the broad drive leading to the mausoleum.
See John Martin Robinson, James Wyatt (1746–1813): Architect to George III, New Haven and London 2012, pp.180–3; see also Alexander J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Second Edition, Revised, with a Supplement, by Hilda F. Finberg, revised ed., Oxford 1961, p.52, and David Hill, Turner in the North: A Tour through Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, the Scottish Borders, the Lake District, Lancashire and Lincolnshire in the Year 1797, New Haven and London 1996, pp.168–9.
Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre eds., The Diary of Joseph Farington, vol.III, New Haven and London 1979, p.1074.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.337 no.330.
Finberg 1909, I, p.221, LXXXIII 1–7, as c.1800–4.