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The Hermitage, Villa Madama
Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Hermitage, Villa Madama
c.1760 (undated)
Oil on canvas
61 x 82 cm
24 x 32 1/4 in.
In a shady glade, a lane runs across the foreground and on the left a man and a woman greet a friar. A rustic building is at the centre, overhung by trees, while to the right on a gentle slope, a line of trees and a small figure are silhouetted against the sunset sky.
Given by the artist to Joseph Farington, his pupil; Earl of Normanton; 3rd Earl of Camperdown (1841-1918), Weston House, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire; sold Christie's, 21 February 1919 (160 - A Forest Scene ), bt Leggatt (£23.2s.0d); Anon sale, Sotheby's 1 August 1951 (94 - A Clearing in a Wood); Dr W. Katz; bt 1959 by Johannesburg Art Gallery
On frame: 'Given by the Artist to his pupil, J. Farington R.A. | From the Earl of Normanton's Collection'
The Villa Madama was designed by Raphael for Cardinal Giuliano dei Medici (later Pope Clement VII) and took its name from having been occupied by Margaret of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Charles V, and Duchess of Parma, in the late 16th century. The location shown was probably called 'Il Teatro' as the tragicomedy Il Pastor Fido by G.B. Guarini was performed there in about 1590. From this the libretto of Handel's eponymous opera was derived (1712, revived 1734).
E14 William Byrne after Wilson A View in the Villa Madama, near Rome, called Il Teatro, 1765, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven (B1984.21.428) and other impressions
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This composition was clearly one of Wilson's 'good breeders' as at least five authentic versions are known.
WGC, p. 202 under pl. 82a (version 2)