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Syon House from Richmond Gardens - I
Private Collection England / Photograph by Matthew Hollow
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Syon House from Richmond Gardens - I
Early 1760s
Oil on canvas
73.6 x 105.6 cm sight size framed
28 15/16 x 41 9/16 in. sight size framed
Private Collection, England
P88C
Syon House appears on the right, seen from Richmond or Kew Gardens across the River Thames. The whole scene is bathed in a serene Claudean afternoon light. Under the trees in the right hand corner, an artist is drawing on white paper while an elegant man stands nearby. To their right is a gardener resting near his wheelbarrow and roller.
RA 1872 (58 - lent Cavendish-Bentinck); Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, 1949; London, Somerset House 1977, London and the Thames: Paintings of Three Centuries (33)
G.A.F. Cavendish-Bentinck, 3 Grafton Street London W1 and Brownsea Island; Christie's 8 July 1891 (541) bt Vokins; Mrs Arthur James, 3 Grafton Street, London W1 and Coton House, Rugby; Christie's 15 October 1948 (134 A View of Sion House, Brentford, from the River at Kew); with Thomas Agnew & Sons, London; with Arthur Tooth & Sons, London; bt Kenneth Lindsey c.1951; thence by descent
The figures have a rococo, Canalettesque appearance and are broadly painted, as is the foliage of the overhanging lighter tree at the right.
Syon House, situated on the banks of the Thames near Brentford, had been in the possession of the Percy family since 1604. The Earl of Northumberland (created duke in October 1766) embarked on a scheme of fitting up the apartments in the grandest classical manner in 1762. This refurbishment, not fully realised, took seven years during which time the park surrounding the house was refashioned by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Robert Adam's designs for the remodelling of the interior were published as vol. 1 of his Works in Architecture in 1773. However, there is no evidence of any ducal patronage of Wilson and this scene was probably intended as generic rather than as the portrait of a private estate. Syon House, situated on the banks of the Thames near Brentford, had been in the possession of the Percy family since 1604. The Earl of Northumberland (created duke in October 1766) embarked on a scheme of fitting up the apartments in the grandest classical manner in 1762. This refurbishment, not fully realised, took seven years during which time the park surrounding the house was refashioned by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Robert Adam's designs for the remodelling of the interior were published as vol. 1 of his Works in Architecture in 1773. However, there is no evidence of any ducal patronage of Wilson and this scene was probably intended as generic rather than as the portrait of a private estate.
E72/13 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Sion Park and House on Thames from Richmond Gardens, The British Museum (1854,0708.70) and other impressions
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Thomas Hastings, One of the Great Ponds between Hampstead and Highgate, London, Looking towards the Surrey Hills, 1831, oil on canvas, 59 x 91 cm, Bank of England, London 1141
The extent to which Syon House is diminished in comparison with the landscape as a whole demonstrates Wilson's compositional development of the formulae of predecessors such as George Lambert. It is possible that the upright pole with attached looping cord protruding from behind the wheelbarrow to the right could be a lightning rod. These began to be installed on ships after Bejamin Franklin's demonstration in the early 1750s that lightning was an electrical phenomenon.
WGC, pp.184-85, pl. 54a (version 2); J. Harris, The Artist and the Country House, 1979, p. 272. fig. 294
An unexplained cord loops from the handle of the roller to an upright pole behind the wheelbarrow. This does not appear in other versions of the painting.
Framed in a 19th century composition Maratta frame. Constable recorded it as 'rubbed and perhaps unfinished' though neither was obvious in 2014. Kate Lowry has noted:
Original support simple weave, medium weight, linen canvas. Paste lined onto similar weight linen canvas by A.R. Burt who inscribed the lining reverse: 'Cleaned, lined and repaired by AR Burt Chester 1837'. Original turnovers removed at the time of relining. Four member stretcher without keys probably dates from relining. The vection cracks run along the inside edges of the present stretcher bars except at the top edge where the distance between the top of the stretcher bar and the crack is 25mm narrower. This suggests that the size of the original canvas has been reduced slightly along the top when relined. Dark grey ground, probably commercially prepared. The half tones of the flesh are the exposed grey of the ground. The painting has recently been cleaned and under UV light residues of old varnish are visible around margins. There are minor retouches around the left side of the face and in the tie and stock of the sitter. The retouching medium fluoresces a bluish colour so the sitter's black tie looks blue under UV light. There is a large retouch at lower left in the fictive oval. Otherwise the painting is in good condition.