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Tivoli: The Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna - I (A Distant View of Rome from Tivoli)
Private Collection / Photograph by David Penman
Richard Wilson and Studio
Tivoli: The Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna - I (A Distant View of Rome from Tivoli)
1763-67 (undated)
Oil on canvas
228.6 x 183.1 cm
90 x 72 in.
Private Collection, England
P142
A distant view of Rome from Tivoli with a young man, girl knitting and a greyhound in the foreground, opposite a wayside shrine. The man has a staff and is pointing towards the city with his left hand. Next to the girl is a basket containing mushrooms [?]. In the middle distance on the right a wagon drawn by two grey horses descends a slope. On the cliff-top to the left is the town of Tivoli with the famous round Temple of the Sibyl. In the far background Mount Soratte is visible.
[?] SA 1763 (134); Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Pictures from Ince Blundell Hall, 1960 (7); Bournemouth, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Paintings from Lulworth Castle Gallery, 1967 (17); Kenwood 1980 (71)
Commissioned 1763 by Henry Blundell for the drawing room of Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool; Mrs Montagu, Ince Blundell Hall; by descent
Unsigned; no inscription
[1] Gilded label on frame: '43 | A DISTANT VIEW OF ROME | (FROM TIVOLI.) | RICHARD WILSON. 1740'
E15 William Byrne, Tivoli: The Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna (untitled), 1765, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven and other impressions
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P71A Distant View of Maecenas' Villa, Tivoli, Private Collection, England
P119 Landscape with Phaeton's Petition to Apollo, Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool
P127 The Lake of Nemi or Speculum Dianae with Dolbadarn Castle, Bristol City Museum and Gallery
One of four paintings commissioned by Henry Blundell for Ince Hall and painted between 1763 and 1767 with the help of assistants including Joseph Farington. The others were P71A Distant View of Maecenas' Villa, Tivoli,
P119 Landscape with Phaeton's Petition to Apollo, and P127 The Lake of Nemi or Speculum Dianae with Dolbadarn Castle. These must date from between 17 June 1763 and 1767, the years of Farington's apprenticeship to Wilson. A Liverpool picture dealer, Thomas Vernon, told Farington that Wilson offered to paint them for 50 guineas each but Blundell paid him 70 guineas. The character of the series as a whole reflects Henry Blundell's strong interest in the antique. In P142 the influence of Gaspard Dughet, one of Wilson's seventeenth-century exemplars is marked, from the subject of Tivoli itself and general compositional arrangements to such details as the gesturing foreground figure with dog. If P142 was the version of the subject shown at the Society of Artists in 1763 it must have been in an exhibitable state by May that year as the exhibition opened on the 14th of that month.
43
227
Farington Diary, vol. 3, p. 683 (28 October 1796) & vol. 7, pp. 2796-97 (26 June 1806); H. Blundell, An Account of the Statues and Paintings at Ince, 1803, p. 225, no. XLIII - A Distant View of Rome; Spiker 1820, vol. I, p. 314; Wright 1824, pp. 101-102; Waagen 1854, vol. 3, p. 249, Letter XXVII, Ince: '1 and 2. Two of the largest and most admirable of his landscapes'; WGC, pp. 43, 72, 116, 163-64, 222-23, pl. 115b.
Farington observed that Wilson received the commission via another painter, Edward Penny. However, it may also owe something to Blundell's wife, Elizabeth Mostyn, of the Flintshire Mostyns, to whom Wilson was related through his mother. Of P142 Henry Blundell stated: 'Taken from Tivoli, a distance of about twenty miles and shows well the flat country or campagna of Rome. The elegant remains of the Sybil's temple, here seen, are noted by all artists. The smoke of grounds burning, and the dust rising from the waggons, are well expressed. The girl who is knitting and the trees have a good effect. At a distance is seen Mons Soracte, mentioned in Horace. This was one of Wilson's exhibition-pictures; and he always said it was the best he ever executed.'
Kate Lowry has noted:
Frame: Gilt, carved moulding, possibly contemporary with the painting and identical to that of P71A. Some moulding losses at upper corners, and lower left and right hand sides. Not glazed and probably not backed. The reverse was not examined. Support: The original canvas seems to be very similar to that used for P71A. This canvas also appears to be glue-lined and is in similarly good condition. Attachment to the stretcher is good and the support is well in plane with no signs of cockling or slackness. Priming or ground: It was difficult to assess the colour of the ground but on balance this is probably grey, as in P71A. There are signs that a pinkish underpaint may have been used around the main tree. Where this has been left visible it gives a characteristic warm tone to the masses of foliage and some of the larger branches. Paint film: As in P71A the figures and the disposition of foreground motifs of plants and fallen logs are typical of Wilson. Less typical is the tight, detailed drawing of the clifftop architecture, which is reminiscent of the style of his pupil, Thomas Jones. The handling of the main tree and its foliage, disposed against the sky are typical of Wilson's style. There is no obvious flaking or loss in the lower parts of this painting but there is a small damage at centre left with associated minor paint loss. Surface film: The resin varnish film is similar to that found in P71A, and again it is quite yellowed, but otherwise in good condition.
19/05/2021