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London: Charlotte (now Hallam) Street: mausoleum for Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807 (18)


Noel Desenfans (1745-1807) was a French art collector who in 1773-4 bought a house at 39 Charlotte (now Hallam) Street, on the north edge of the Portland estate. He lived there with his wife Margaret and his friend, the Swiss-born artist Sir Peter Bourgeois. Desenfans died on 8 July 1807 bequeathing his house and considerable collection of paintings to Bourgeois. The first design for a mausoleum is dated 15 May 1807 so the idea must have been discussed before Desenfan's death. It must have been built by 1808 and four years later was then reproduced at Dulwich Picture Gallery(q.v.).

Initialy, alternative designs were made for the mausoleum and labelled 1 and 2. However neither was built though the second design provided the basis for a third design that was built. The drawing that shows this is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, one of five drawings for the Bourgeois mausoleum. It is an interior perspective dated 26 August 1807. The main chamber in this design is circular in plan, the lantern has been replaced with a roundel with a dove, and in the burial chamber the three sarcophagi have been arranged around a plinth that is set against the end wall. There are variations in the drawings that follow but the three part plan of a lobby, a circular chamber and a rectangular burial chamber is maintained. Four years later, the Charlotte Street design was virtually reproduced at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

There are five drawings for the Bourgeois mausoleum in the V&A collections see P.du Prey, Sir John Soane, Catalogues of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1985, pp. 86-87.

D.Stroud, Sir John Soane architect, 1996,p.32; P.Dean, Sir John Soane and London, 2006, pp.32 and Mausolus, summer 2015, (Mausolus Essay Prize Runner Up) T.Drysdale, 'The Desenfans Mausoleum at Charlotte Street', pp10-17

Jill Lever
January 2017



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Contents of London: Charlotte (now Hallam) Street: mausoleum for Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1807 (18)