William Brockedon’s sketchbook

I must admit I’d never heard of William Brockedon until this week.  To summarise his Oxford National Biography article…. He was born in 1787 in Devon , took over his father’s watchmakers business when he was 14, caught the eye of two local Devonshire patrons in 1809 and with their support went to study at the Royal Academy and pursue a career as a painter.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1812 onwards, mainly showing portraits and religious subjects.  In 1815 he headed to the alps and produced topographical paintings which were later engraved and widely circulated. By Brockedon’s own estimation he crossed the alps nearly 60 times by 30 different routes.

While that last statistic is pretty impressive the reason why I am writing about him, is that YCBA holds one Brockedon's Derbyshire sketchbookof his sketchbooks, enticingly entitled…

‘An Album containing 24 drawings, in black and white chalks, and graphite; Album also contains one wash drawing, mostly of Derbyshire scenery, with exception of last plate: a full-length portrait’.

I had a look this morning and it was fantastic.  Most of the sketches are untitled but it looks like Brockedon travelled via Nottingham and Sheffield to Derbyshire.  His first stop was Castleton where he sketched Peak Cavern/the Devil’s Arse and Peveril Castle before heading south to Dovedale.

Here are a selection from his Castleton sketches:

Peak Cavern (B1977.14.1496.5)

Inside Peak Cavern (B1977.14.1496.6)Peak Cavern (B1977.14.1496.13)Peveril Castle (B1977.14.1496.9)
















































As well as being an artist with work in museums including the V&A and British Museum, Brockedon was also an inventor, a founding member of the Royal Geographical Society and a fellow of the Royal Society.

I’ll upload more images from his sketchbook in the next couple of days.