This sketch has traditionally been attributed to Sir James Thornhill (1675-1734), however, stylistically it is much closer to the work of Louis Chéron, as Dr. Brian Allen first observed.
Louis Chéron, the son of the enamel painter and etcher, Henri Chéron, and the brother of the painter Elisabeth-Sophie Chéron, was born in Paris and studied at the Academie. He was encouraged to come to England, in 1695, by Verrio's patron, Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu, and decided to stay, partly on account of his protestantism. The Duke was his most important patron and employed the artist at Boughton, Northamptonshire, Ditton Park, Buckinghamshire, and in London, at Montagu House.
The sketch is clearly a preliminary design for a staircase although it appears too narrow to be for the staircase at Boughton. The architrave in the sketch would appear to relate to the architrave of The Temple of Fortuna Virilis, in Rome, which was illustrated by Desgodetz in his Edifices Antiques de Rome published in 1682. The pillasters supporting the architrave show the alternatives of an Ionic and a Tuscan order. The vase of flowers, flanked by putti in the lower centre of the sketch, would appear to be a later addition by the artist.
We are grateful to Dr. Tessa Murdoch for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.