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The Cascade at Terni
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Cascade at Terni
c.1751-52 (undated)
Black chalk on medium, moderately-textured, blued white laid paper
286 x 216 mm
11 1/4 x 8 1/2 in.
B1977.14.5746
D61
From the top left an abundant waterfall plunges though a gap in the rocks. Further down and on the right tiny figures are seen on ledges leaning forward to stare at the water's descent.
Sheffield 1921; London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (20)
Earl of Warwick; Sotheby's June 1936 (152); Iolo Williams (245 - Terni); Paul Mellon; passed to the Yale Center for British Art in 1977
Unsigned; no inscription
As Solkin observed, the combination of long looping lines and diagonal hatchings is entirely typical of Wilson's drawing style in 1751
[1] Faintly in pencil in an 18th or 19th-century hand: La Cascata di Terni
The famous Marmore Falls, near Terni, some 40 miles north-east of Rome, were cut in 272 BC by Curius Dentatus, conqueror of the Sabines and are among the highest in Europe at 650 feet. The manmade cascade is formed where the waters of the Velino River fall in three stages to join those of the Nera and was celebrated in Virgil's Aeneid' and in Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage of 1812. In the 18th century it was one of the most popular destinations in Latium and Umbria for tourists and artists alike. In Wilson's lifetime the falls were also painted by Orizzonte and Thomas Patch, while later international artists who depicted them included Claude-Louis Chatelet (1753-1794), Jakob Philip Hackert, Carlo Labruzzi and Francis Towne.
D299 Study of a House and Loggia, The British Museum
[1] Thomas Patch, The Falls of Terni, oil on canvas, 1767, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales (NMWA 106)
[2] Francis Towne (1739-1816): The Falls of Terni, watercolour, 1799, The British Museum (Nn,3.17)
Drawn on the spot at Terni, which was one of the last stops on Wilson's journey from Venice to Rome in the company of William Lock in 1751-52. According to Wilson's early biographer, Wright, Wilson stood in speechless admiration before the waterfall at Terni and no less a contemporary than Reynolds, who 'happened to be on the spot', heard him exclaim, 'Well done water, by God.' Reynolds noted in his sketchbook that he dined and saw the cascade at Terni on 5th May 1752, on his way from Rome to Florence but did not mention Wilson. The latter had arrived in Rome by March that year. He also made a drawing of a house in Terni (D299) , though probably on a later visit to the area.
Wright 1824, p. 19; Ford 1951, pp. 52-53, pl. 10; Solkin 1982, pp. 156-57
20/10/2016