The last of the numbered series of diagrams prepared by Turner for his lectures as Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy, Diagram 76 depicts the interior of the Mausoleum at Brocklesby Park, near Crowle, Lincolnshire. Built by James Wyatt as a memorial to Lord Yarborough’s wife Sophia (née Aufrere) who died in 1787, the Mausoleum was completed in 1792. A distinguished example of the ‘vibrant neo-classicism’ of the period, based by Wyatt on the circular Roman Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, it soon became a tourist attraction, open to the public with its own Visitors’ Book.1
In Turner’s watercolour, light pours through the glazed oculus painted by Francis Eginton and on to the life-size statue of Sophia by Joseph Nollekens (circa 1791) while the alcoves between the pairs of fluted Corinthian columns are in shadow. The image is associated by Maurice Davies with a larger group of diagrams illustrating the production of shadows; see note to Diagram 60 (Tate D17085; Turner Bequest CXCV 115). By any standards one of Turner’s most spectacular architectural realisations, this perspective illustration transcends the topic at hand as well as the term ‘diagram’.
Turner may have visited Brocklesby during his tour of the North in 1797, and was certainly there in the early autumn of 1798 when he drew the exterior of the Mausoleum in the Brocklesby Mausoleum sketchbook (Tate D05159–D05163; Turner Bequest LXXXIII 1–5) and is known to have made watercolours for Lord Yarborough. There is also a study in watercolour (Tate D08277; Turner Bequest CXXI U). None of the commissioned drawings have survived, perhaps perishing in a fire that gutted the main house in 1898, but one must have been the exterior view engraved circa 1800 by F.C. Lewis of which Turner sent an impression ‘from a private plate of Lord Yarborough’s’ to John Soane on 4 July 1804.2
Dating the diagram tentatively to 1797, and thus implying that it was recycled for Turner’s lectures, David Hill adds that ‘given the lack of any separate studies, it remains something of a mystery as to where Turner could have obtained his information unless it was painted directly from the subject’. He also notes Turner’s early association with Wyatt and that this could have given him access to Wyatt’s drawing for the Mausoleum. Turner’s visit to Brocklesby surely accounts for his knowledge of the interior. Moreover, his continuing association with Yarborough, which seems to have included the patron’s co-sponsorship of his visit to France and the Alps in 1802, could have occasioned further visits.
David Watkin, ‘Monuments and Mausolea in the Age of Enlightenment’, in Giles Waterfield ed., Soane and Death, exhibition catalogue, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London 1996; Dorey 2007, pp.22–4.
John Gage ed., Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 1980, p.24; for the print, Dorey 2007, pp.21–3 no.4 reproduced.
Watkin and Waterfield 1996; Dorey 2007, pp.22–3.