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Stone, Sarah, ca. 1760-1844
Perspective [interior] view of Sir Ashton Lever's Museum [Leicester Square, London] March 30/1785 / watercolour by Sarah Stone
Level of Description
Date of Work
30 March 1785
Type of Material
Drawings : 1 watercolour ; 34.5 x 39 cm.
Administrative / Biographical Note
For details of Sir Ashton Lever and his Museum, see: W.J. Smith, "The Life and Activities of Sir Ashton Lever of Alkrington, 1729-1788", Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 1965. A copy of this booklet can be found at www.live.co.uk/lever.htm (September 2001) See also: PXn 937 Mitchell Library Reading Room. See also: Holophusicon the Leverian Museum : an eighteenth-century English institution of science, curiosity, and art / Adrienne L. Kaeppler. Altenstadt, Germany : ZKF Publishers ; Honolulu, HI : Distributed in the United States by Bishop Museum Press, c2011
Purchased August 2001. Previously sold at Sotheby's, Sydney, Australia 2000 Sale, 16 August 2000, lot 287
Access to this pictures collection via appointment only. Please submit your request through Ask a Librarian.
Out of copyright - Creator died before 1955
Please acknowledge: - Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Signatures / Inscriptions
Signed and dated lower left
This watercolour was exhibited under this title at the Royal Academy, London, 1786 (cat. n. 535) The watercolour of Sir Ashton Lever's Museum depicts a rare interior view of one of England's most notable late-eighteenth century private natural history museums displaying items collected on Cook's and other voyages to Australia and the Pacific. The Ethnographic Department, British Museum holds an 1835 watercolour copy of the same image by another artist. The BM image was reproduced as the dust jacket illustration and frontispiece of Art of nature: Sarah Stone, curiosities from the New Worlds / Christine Jackson, London, 1998, State Reference Library Q759.2/53. The present image was last on public display prior to its appearance in Sotheby's Sydney Australia 2000 Sale, Sydney, 16 August 2000 when purchased by a Mrs Oliphant at the dispersal sale of the Leverian Museum contents in 1806: as lot 887 of this sale it was described as "Water-colour drawing of the interior of the Leverian Museum, by Mrs. Smith, (late Miss Stone)" (See Catalogue of the Leverian Museum ... the sale of the entire collection ... 1806, Mitchell Library 570.7/L). According to Edward Donovan's copy of the "Catalogue of the Leverian Museum ..." it sold for 2-10-0 : see Hordern House, "Rare Books. Manuscripts. Paintings. Prints", 2001 lots 67 & 68. Another interior view of the Leverian Museum based on an original drawing (apparently no longer extant) by Sarah Stone and Charles Ryley appears as an engraved frontispiece in the first issue of A companion to the Museum (late Sir Ashton Lever's) ... London, 1790, Mitchell Library 060/L. Separate drawings by Sarah Stone for many of the specimens depicted in this watercolour are held by the Natural History Museum (NHM), London. For example,the Mandarin Duck, the Asian Elephant and the West Indian Flamigo are depicted both in the watercolour of the Leverian Museum and in the NHM's collection. The NHM's Stone drawings can be seen at their Picture Library's on-line catalogue (www.nhm.ac.uk). This watercolour accords with contemporary descriptions of the Museum. The Reverend William Gilpin wrote to Mary Delany, 8 May 1786, "[Lever] has endeavoured to array his birds to the best advantage by placing them in white boxes round his rooms, and when you enter you are presented with a succession of rooms, still multiplied by a mirror at the end, everywhere invested with these little white appartments ... He would say, I doubt not, that he spread a white ground behind his birds to show their colours more advantageously, but in that I think he is deceived. His rooms are so light that his birds would detach themselves from any ground ..." see Lady Llanover ed., "The autobiography and correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany", 1861-62, vol. II, p.349.
Lever, Sir Ashton, 1729-1788
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