Peter Perez Burdett’s sketch of Full Street, Derby



Pen, Ink and Wash on laid paper watermarked J Whatman.

Bought by Derby Museum and Art Gallery at Mellors and Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers, Nottingham.

Burdett was a cartographer, surveyor and topographical artist. In 1765 he moved into the tall house on the left hand side of the street (next but one to the alms houses) which he had his friend, the architect Joseph Pickford (1734-1782) remodel in the fashionable Gothick style.

A friend of Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797) – who painted a double portrait of Burdett and his wife – his circle included many of the leading figures in the Midlands Enlightenment. Amongst others, he corresponded with such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin. His many interests ranged from astronomy and music to printmaking, producing the first aquatint printed in England.

This apparently unfinished drawing shows the east end of Derby Cathedral on the extreme right hand side which is all that now remains of the scene. It was copied by George Bailey (1832-1925) and published as a postcard by Richard Keene, Junior of Derby in 1905. In 1768 Burdett left Derby for Liverpool so as to avoid his creditors, before settling permanently in the Margraviate of Baden in 1774.


 On the back of the sketch there are various inscriptions that read:

 ‘Full Street, Derby 1769’

bottom right ‘East side of All Saint’s Church’

left side. Different hand in ink ‘Bought Mr Thos Chubbard(?) _ _ _ _ _ _’ across bottom left. Inscription on verso in pencil: ‘by P.P.Burdett, a celebrated Surveyor and Mathematician of Derby who became Chief Engineer for the Prince of Baden in Germany. Throsby’s Select Views of Liecestershire 1789. Mr Burdett is represented in Wright’s painting of the Orrery as taking notes on the left side of the picture, also with Wright in his picture of the Gladiator. He was a personal friend of Wright. See Bemrose’s Life and Works of Joseph Wright 1885. In the catalogue of the late(?) of the collection of Prints and Drawings formed by Wm Roscoe Esq published in 1816 there appears the following “P.P. Burdett, Eight of States(?), Historical Lanscaper of  specimens of different processes in aqua-tuita. Six ditto_ _ _ _of_ _ _ _ _ _ , sold £1.17 6. These attempts to execute prints in aqua-tuita were made about the same time as those of J.B de Prince (to whom the invention is attributed) by Mr Burdett, an amateur artist of Liverpool, who is chiefly known to the public by his excellent maps of Derbyshire and Cheshire’ page 165.’

2 Responses to Peter Perez Burdett’s sketch of Full Street, Derby

  1. threeoutside says:

    Lovely picture! I’m glad I signed up for your emails.

    In a coincidence, I started reading “The Great Scientists” this week, whose cover is Wright’s “A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery.” Having had for many years a particular delight in orreries, this coincidence adds a smile to my week.


  2. It is a nice sketch – we were pretty excited when we saw it in the auction catalogue.

    Talking of Joseph Wright’s Orrery picture, it is thought that the guy on the left hand side (in the blue/grey coat, taking notes) is Peter Perez Burdett. It is amazing how intertwined everything is, and even more amazing that things like this unfinished sketch have survived.

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