Funerary monument to Samuel Leigh Sotheby, c.1861
Reason for Listing
* Design interest: appropriate stele with a neo-classical marble plaque for Samuel Leigh Sotheby, a man with antiquarian interests;
* Historic interest: commemorates the last, and most successful, of the Sotheby family involved with the famous auction house;
* Group value: it is located within the Grade I-registered Brompton Cemetery and has group value with other listed tombs and structures nearby.
Samuel Leigh Sotheby, (1805-1861) Auctioneer, antiquary and author was the third (and last) generation of Sothebys to have been involved in the famous auction house, originally established as booksellers and auctioneers of 'Literary Properties' in 1744 by Samuel Baker (1711-1778). Born in Hampstead Sotheby followed his father, Samuel Sotheby (1771-1842), into the business that his grandfather, John Sotheby (1740-1807), had joined in 1776. Following the bankruptcy of his father in 1836, Sotheby rebuilt the business, now renamed S L Sotheby, becoming the premier auctioneer of antique books. He also published a number of bibliographical works including 'The Typography of the Fifteenth Century' (1845) and 'Principia typographica' (1858) and was a collector of English art. Subject to fainting fits, Sotheby died when, on 16 June 1861, he fell into the River Dart and drowned during a ramble near Buckfastleigh Abbey.
Brompton Cemetery was one of the 'magnificent seven' privately-run burial grounds established in the 1830s and 1840s to relieve pressure on London's overcrowded churchyards. It was laid out in 1839-1844 to designs by the architect Benjamin B Baud, who devised a classical landscape of axial drives and vistas with rond-points at the intersections marked by mausolea or ornamental planting, the latter devised by Isaac Finnemore with advice from J C Loudon. The main Ceremonial Way culminates in a dramatic architectural ensemble recalling Bernini's piazza in front of St Peter's in Rome, with flanking colonnades curving outwards to form a Great Circle, closed at its southern end in a domed Anglican chapel (the planned Catholic and Nonconformist chapels were omitted for financial reasons). The cemetery, never a commercial success, was compulsorily purchased by the General Board of Health in the early 1850s, and has remained in state ownership ever since.
MATERIALS: Grey granite, inset relief of Carrera marble in a slate frame.
A tall rough-hewn granite stele (approximately 2m high) set on a low hexagonal base with a ledger stone in front. The stele has a round marble relief of an angel guiding a couple to the light, set in a slate surround and originally glazed to protect the marble. The base is inscribed: FOR AS IN ADAM ALL DIE EVEN SO IN/ CHRIST ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE/ S. LEIGH SOTHEBY/ BORN 1805 DIED 1861.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.