Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Letter with Sketch of Artist Painting Stage Scenery

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (British, London 1812–1852 Ramsgate)
Addressed to William Grieve (British, 1800–1844)
Addressed to Thomas Grieve (British, 1799–1882)
March 1831
Pen and black ink over graphite
sheet: 7 7/8 x 7 1/8 in. (20 x 18.1 cm)
Drawings, Ornament & Architecture
Credit Line:
Bequest of the Estate of Randolph Gunter, 1962
Accession Number:
Not on view
This letter from Pugin relates to stage sets being made for a ballet inspired by Sir Walter Scott's "Kenilworth," produced at the King's Theatre, London in March 1831. A life-long enthusiast for the theater, the aspiring architect was already an experienced stage carpenter after a season at Covent Garden. Here, he promises the leading scene painters William and Thomas Grieve that he will arrive on Monday at ten to assist with the sets, and insists that it is the pleasure of their company, rather than the thought of financial gain, that compells him. The accompanying sketch depicts a small figure working on a gothic back cloth suspended over the stage from a pulley system. Pugin's diary records that he went on to paint interiors of Cumnor Place and Greenwich Palace for this production, and also supplied costume details.
Signature: See Inscriptions

Inscription: Pen and black ink upper center (within sketch): "Fate Calls and I Must Obey / Fate Calls and I Must Obey"; right center (within sketch): "expect me at 10 on Monday"; bottom center: "Dear Sir/ I cannot resist the pleasure of your society and that of / your amiable and talented brother. I come tis not the Lucre tis not the Lucre / fate I obey thy summons -- hence away. / Your most faithful adjutant / A.W. Pugin"; lower left: "To the celebrated Delineator of Kenilworth"
Randolph Gunter (American, died 1962); Donor: Randolph Gunter (American, died 1962)
Paul Atterbury, Clive Wainwright Pugin: A Gothic Passion. New Haven, 1994, illustrated p. 26; Pugin and the theater discussed by Lionael Lambourne, pp. 34-41.

Margaret Belcher The Collected Letters of A.N.W. Pugin, 1830-42. Oxford, 2002, p. 11.

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