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Cicero's Villa (On the Strada Nomentana - III)
Manchester City Galleries
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Cicero's Villa (On the Strada Nomentana - III)
Oil on canvas
101.6 x 127 cm
40 x 50 in.
Rural scene looking past the ruins of 'Cicero's Villa' in Italy and out towards a lake and landscape. In the foreground, a woman and child rest beside the water's edge as a horse is led towards them. To the left, a single cow is visible on the shore, its image reflected in the water below. In the background, hills can be seen to the right and in the distance. The sun sets on the horizon, casting a haze over the landscape.
RA Old Masters 1877 (16 - Landscape, with tall ruins on the right; lake in foreground; hills in distance); Agnew 1896 (14 - Cicero's Villa, Forinarum [sic]); Manchester 1925 (61); Birmingham 1948-49 (41 - Cicero's Villa); London 1949 (40 - On the Strada Nomentana)
Probably Edward Cock (1805-1892), President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Southwark; with J. & W. Vokins, 14, Great Portland Street; with Agnew 1896; purchased by the City Art Gallery, Manchester, 1897
Cicero owned a number of villas in Italy but none is identifiable here and the title is probably fanciful.
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W.G. Constable noted that the title, which has no authority, has led to confusion with the paintings of Cicero at his Villa (P162 & versions) and the Bay of Baiae from Posillipo with Cicero's Villa (P186). Also, because of the likeness of the ruin and its setting to those in the Strada Nomentana paintings (P104 & P105), the present composition too has been given that title. He rightly observed that the ruin is more like the remains of a tomb than a villa.
Manchester City Art Gallery, Annual Report, 1949, pls I & II; WGC, pp. 89, 111n., 169, 197, pl. 75a; Concise Catalogue of British Paintings, Manchester City Art Gallery, 1976, vol. 1, p. 203
The horse and man, hidden under the repaint of a nineteenth-century restorer, were revealed when the picture was cleaned in 1949.
Kate Lowry has noted: Generally a warm gingery brown tone. Seated woman in foreground and boy leading a horse downhill left of centre are not very convincing, but pentiment visible around top of the ruin upper right suggests this is not a copy and the foliage placed over a reserved area in the sky upper right is typical of Wilson. There is also a group of distant birds in the upper left sky which are a typical Wilson feature. The painting appears to be glue relined and there is a large blanched retouch in sky just above horizon at left edge. It is possible that the figures have been retouched.