Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Pen and ink and grey wash
  • 13 ⅜ × 9 ⅝ inches · 340 × 244 mm
  • Drawn c.1780
  • £5,000


  • Sir Bruce Stirling Ingram, O.B.E., M.C., F.S.A (1877-1963);
  • Sotheby’s, 21st October 1964, part of lot.196
  • Christopher Powney acquired from the above;
  • W A Brandt (1902-1978) acquired from the above on 14th December 1964, [£20];
  • by descent to 2024


  • Ickworth, British Neo-Classical Art, 18th May – 20th July 1969, cat. no. 103.

On his return from Italy in 1755 Joseph Wilton became a hugely successful designer and sculptor, winning commissions for a large number of funerary monuments in Britain and internationally.

Established in a large workshop in Queen Anne Street, near Great Portland Street, Wilton produced complex funeral tableaux, replete with sculptural groups, as well as more restrained memorials, such as this design for a wall-mounted tablet surmounted by an oil lamp with a coiled serpent as a handle. Although the present design has not been associated with a completed monument, it is similar in approach to any number of Wilton’s funerary sculptures. In Rome Wilton developed a refined language of neo-classical ornament. He regularly worked closely with the architect William Chambers, executing a number of grand funerary monuments designed in partnership with Chambers, including to the Duke of Bedford, at Chenies, Buckinghamshire and the to the Earl and Countess of Mountrath in Westminster Abbey. In the present drawing, probably designed to show a potential patron, Wilton has created an architectonic wall tablet: the central field reserved for an inscription, surmounted by a delicate field of paterae, and entablature of dentils; the central tablet is supported on a pair of fluted, tapering supports, this severe architectural approach is enlivened by the addition of organic elements: the sculptural palms at the foot of the tablet, the serpent handled lamp and swirling smoke, which was a particular feature of Wilton’s work.