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Portrait of Richard Wilson
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Anton Raphael Mengs
Portrait of Richard Wilson
1752 (undated)
Oil on canvas
84.6 x 75.2 cm
33 5/16 x 29 5/8 in.
NMW A 113
Wlson is shown half-length from his proper right side, sitting before his easel with palette and brushes in his left hand. Richly but informally dressed in a brown flowered gown and turban, he has been working on a landscape.
Manchester 1857 (British Portrait Gallery, 311); Wrexham 1876 (298); Bangor 1925 (40); Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood House, London Anton Raphael Mengs and his British Patrons, 1993 (18); Cardiff, Manchester and London, 2003-4 (14); Tercentenary 2014 (1)
Richard Wilson; Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 4th baronet; by descent to Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, 8th baronet; Sotheby's 5 February 1947 (45), bt Renwick; presented by the National Art Collections Fund to the National Museum of Wales, 1947
Unsigned; no inscription
Edward Penny [?] after Mengs, Portrait of Richard Wilson, RA , The British Museum (1881,0611.201)
[1] E84 William Bromley after Mengs, Portrait of Richard Wilson, oval, 1790
[2] William Bond after Taylor after Mengs, stipple engraving, 1812
[3] Charles Pye after Mengs, 1822
[4] William Bond after Mengs, 1824
P6 Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782), Self-Portrait, Private Collection, USA
Edward Penny, Portrait of Richard Wilson, National Portrait Gallery (NPG 1803)
John Taylor (1739-1838) after Mengs, Portrait of Richard Wilson, location unknown
This portrait, painted in Rome, shows Wilson in his late thirties at the outset of his career as a landscape painter. The painting on his easel may be intended as the one he is known to have given Mengs in exchange for this portrait. The present work is the only undisputed individual image of Wilson by another artist. It passed to his patron, Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn either at the sitter's death in 1782 or at about the tiime of the Wynnstay landscape commissions (P165 & P166) in 1770-71. According to Farington in 1801, Wilson's pupil Thomas Jones, told him that 'Mengs, the German Painter, who was in great repute at Rome, said that He never met with but 2 English artists of superior genius, they were R. Wilson - and Athenian Stuart.'
G.N. d'Azara, Opere di Antonio Rafaello Mengs, Rome 1787, xlii-xliii; Hodges 1790; Farington Diary, vol. 4, p. 1554 (27 May 1801); Edwards 1808, pp. 78-79; Wright 1824, p. 75 & frontispiece; Cunningham 1830, p. 198; Cooper 1948 1; WGC, pp. 67-8, 234, pl.1; S. Roettgen, Mengs and his British Patrons, 1993, pp. 12-13, 83-85; Ingamells 1997, p. 1007; Roettgen 1999, vol. 1, pp. 303-305, cat. 236; Sumner & Smith 2003, p. 124, repr.; Hernon 2013, p. 10, pl. 11; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 206
The portrait was copied by Cooper and Constable and there are numerous derivations and graphic reproductions, testaments to Wilson's enduring fame as a leading British landscapist, which continued throughout the 19th century.