Capability Brown Blenheim Palace sketch to be auctioned

A sketch by Lancelot Brown, commonly known as Capability Brown, showing his plans for part of the landscape at Blenheim Palace is to be sold at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on 8 July.

The sketch is estimated at £70,000-100,000. Brown’s sketches hardly ever appear at auction, most remaining in the private collections of those who commissioned them, making this example extremely rare.

It shows the view north-east across the lake from Blenheim Palace towards the town of Woodstock.  Its purpose was to show the effect of Brown’s proposal to Gothicise the existing perimeter wall – much as a CGI image might be used by an architect today to illustrate a design to a client.

The sketch is in pen, grey ink and watercolour on laid paper. It is detailed and appears to be accurate - a very similar view can be experienced by visitors to the grounds of the Palace today though this particular scheme was never realised.

The main buildings are inscribed with letters and identified in a key at the bottom left of the sketch – A The Church, B Triumphal Arch, C The Revd Mr Holloways, D Miss Cotterells, E The Cock Pit, F, Mr Turners. 

Brown’s sketch remained in the Marlborough family until the 10th Duke made a gift of it to the town of Woodstock in the 1930s.  

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