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A View of Elizabethan Chatsworth
Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth / The Bridgeman Art Library
Ascribed to Wilson
A View of Elizabethan Chatsworth
Before 1750 (undated)
Oil on canvas
99.1 x 124.5 cm
40 x 50 in.
Thomas Agnew, The Devonshire Collection, 1948(43)
There is no record of how the picture came to Chatsworth, nor of any connection with Wilson
Unsigned; no inscription
The house appears as it was between 1676 and 1686 since it shows the sash windows that the 3rd Earl of Devonshire began to insert in 1676, while in 1686 the 4th Earl (later the 1st Duke) began to pull the house down. The figures in the foreground wear late seventeenth-century dress.
P72 Lake Nemi and Genzano from the Terrace of the Capuchin Monastery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The work is an intriguing mystery and as W.G. Constable remarked, how Wilson could have come to paint it is pure speculation. Possibly it is a copy of an earlier picture, including the most typical aspects such as the sky and hillside. Yet the device of the foreground road cutting across the angle of the picture is an eighteenth-century convention. It was used by Wilson, for example in P72 Lake Nemi and Genzano from the Terrace of the Capuchin Monastery. Yet there is no evidence of Wilson's having had any connection with the Dukes of Devonshire. Conceivably the Earl of Burlington, father-in-law of the 3rd Duke and a patron of George Lambert, might have been involved but it is more probable that, as noted by John Harris, the painting is an anonymous eighteenth-century capriccio based upon existing architectural documents of the Elizabethan mansion.
F. Thompson, Foreword to Catalogue of Agnew Exhibition, 1948, pp. 8-9; F. Thompson, History of Chatsworth, 1949, pp. 24, 65n.; Waterhouse 1953, p. 177; WGC, pp. 21 n.1, 76, 172, pl. 31b; J. Harris, The Artist and the Country House, 1979, p. 75. fig. 72