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Celadon and Amelia
The Trustees of the British Museum
William Woollett (1735-1785) and John Browne (1741-1801) after Wilson
Celadon and Amelia
Published 10 June 1766
Etching and engraving
446 x 548 mm
17 9/16 x 21 9/16 in.
1840,0808.167
E18D
Celadon is at the centre, looking to the heavens with his arms outstretched in disbelief and grief. Amelia lies dead at his feet. In the background, there is a house with a shepherd driving his sheep up a hill, on which is a fortress. On the right, there is a bay with stormy seas and a broken bridge. The sky is dark with storm clouds, though clearing to the right of the fortress.
Acquired 1840
Unsigned. Lettered below the image, left: 'R.Wilson pinxit Londini.' | 'The tempest caught them on the tender walk, | _____________ from his void embrace, - | Mysterious Heaven! that moment to the ground, | A blacken'd corse, was struck the beauteous maid.'; lower centre: 'CELADON and AMELIA | from an ORIGINAL PICTURE, in the Collection of Wm. Lock Esqr. | Publsh'd June 10th. 1766 as the Act directs, by Wm. Woollett in Green Street, Leicester Fields, & Ryland & Bryer at the King's Arms in Cornhill, LONDON.'; lower right: 'Browne Aqua forti fecit. Woollett Sculpt.' / 'But who can paint the lover, as he stood, | Pierc'd by severe amazement, hating life, | Speechless, and fix'd in all the death of woe! | Thompson's Summer, v. 1191. 1214.'
The subject derives from The Seasons by the Scottish poet and playwright, James Thomson (1700-1748). Seven lines of verse from Summer, first published in 1727, are arranged to the left and right of the title.
D135 Broken Trees on a Mountain, The British Museum
D362 Study for Celadon and Amelia, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
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The engraving is of an unlocated painting exhibited by Wilson at the Society of Artists in 1765 (157), entitled A Summer Storm with the Story of the Two Lovers from Thompson (Celadon and Amelia). Its original owner is cited as William Lock of Norbury, the artist's travelling companion from Venice to Rome 15 years previously. Solkin has described the subject as a modern, English, Christian equivalent to the 'Destruction of the Children of Niobe' (see P90 and other versions), noting that such a moral theme was well suited to a landscape painter of Wilson's Grand Style pretensions. The design appropriately recalls storm scenes by Gaspard Dughet and mountain views by Salvator Rosa, both of whom were admired by Thomson.
Fagan 1885, p. 26 cat. LVII, 7th State; WGC, p. 165 under pl. 24b; Solkin 1982, pp. 220-21 (entry on one of several impressions at the British Museum); S. Mitchell, 'James Thomson's Picture Collection and British History Painting', Journal of the History of Collections, vol. 23, no. 1 (2011), pp. 127-28; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 284 (entry on E18, an impression at YCBA)
WGC notes that a line engraving of the composition, published in France by J.J. Avril (1771-1835) and derived from the Woollett engraving, in earlier impressions has the name of Wilson as painter but substitutes that of Vernet in later impressions.
08/02/2017