BRUNEL (MARC ISAMBARD) Autograph "Design for a Bridge across the Neva at Petersburg", in the Gothick taste, [c.1820]
Lot 80
BRUNEL (MARC ISAMBARD)
Autograph "Design for a Bridge across the Neva at Petersburg", in the Gothick taste, [c.1820]
Sold for £7,500 (US$ 10,020) inc. premium

Lot Details
BRUNEL (MARC ISAMBARD)
Autograph "Design for a Bridge across the Neva at Petersburg", in the Gothick taste, comprising an elevation of the full bridge with a boat sailing between the central arch, with above it views of the central arch and one of the bridge as seen from its entrance lodges, plus light pencil sketches, captioned in a later hand (as quoted), pen, ink and wash, on paper, three centre-folds, trimmed at edges, with glue-marks verso, c.450 x 810mm., [c.1820]

Footnotes

  • 'HONOURED BY THE PECULIAR NOTICE OF HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY THE EMPEROR' – BRUNEL'S PLANS FOR A BRIDGE ACROSS THE NEVA AT ST PETERSBURG. According to Beamish's memoir, Brunel had attracted the notice of Czar Alexander I on his visit to England at the end of the Napoleonic Wars: 'During the visit of "the crowned heads" to this country in 1814, the Emperor of Russia, with his own hand, placed a diamond ring on Brunel's finger as an earnest of the value which Russia would set on his services should the time ever arrive when she might command them'; and in 1821, when imprisoned for debt, Brunel complained of his ungrateful country that 'From 1818, the period of the Congress of Aix, when my plans were before his Imperial Majesty, I have delayed sending my proposition and terms for establishing a communication across the Neva. It is only in December last that I sent plans and propositions for either a tunnel or a bridge across the river. The latter plan, which is a most extraordinary plan, and on a most enlarged scale, was honoured by the peculiar notice of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor' (pp.158 and 172). Brunel was told that the Czar was much impressed by his design: 'L'Empereur, qui estime depuis longtemps et apprecié les profondes connaissances de i'ingénieur Brunel'; unfortunately however funds were not forthcoming for its construction (p.162).

    As Beamish further records, his son Isambard Kingdom was working in the office at the time: 'the designs by his father for a bridge to span the Neva at St. Petersburg were placed in his hands, that, by supplying a few figures as a scale, he might become identified with his father in the design, the drawing was soon returned – not with a few figures only, but actually peopled with illustrations of every manual operation' (p.312).

    Beamish illustrates another version of the design, presumably the one as actually submitted to the Czar, in which the lodges and central arch are in the Classical as opposed to Gothick taste, as here (p.161).
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