|Artist||after James Mason after Thomas Smith|
|Published||London: Printed for J. Cooke, at the Shakespear's - Head, in Pater - Noster Row, .|
|Dimensions||Image 155 x 275 mm, Plate 174 x 292 mm, Sheet 230 x 362 mm|
A view of Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire, the ancestral seat of the Byron family from Nathaniel Spencer's The Complete English Traveller.. The 'abbey' of the name was an Augustinian priory established by King Henry II as penance for his involvement in the murder of Thomas Becket. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was converted into a private residence. This print was made during the residency of William, 5th Baron Byron, commonly referred to as the 'Wicked Lord' or the 'Devil Byron.' William inherited the estate in its prime, following the redesigning of its gardens and the addition of Gothic follies by the 4th Baron. After a family row, William actively began running the estate into ruins in an attempt to destroy his son's inheritance. His son died young, and the active ruination of the abbey ceased, but by the time of William's death, the house was in an advanced state of decay as well as increasing debt.
William's legacy was passed to his great-nephew, the famous poet Lord Byron. Due to the expansive debts, and the cost of maintaining the property, Byron rarely lived in the abbey, seeing it instead as a poetic commentary on the decay of his family, and casting Newstead as a perfect example of the romantic ruin. His most well-known contribution to the estate was the erection of a grand monument for his Newfoundland dog Boatswain. The burial monument, larger than that which Byron himself would receive, contained a verse inscription, Epitaph to a Dog, which has become one of Byron's most popular poetic works.
James Mason (1710 - c.1785) was a British engraver, publisher, and printseller, best known for his series of views of stately homes.
Thomas Smith of Derby (c. 1720-1767) was a landscape painter, the father of John Raphael Smith and grandfather of John Rubens Smith.