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The Temple of Bacchus
The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. 2004.43. Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978.
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Temple of Bacchus
Dated 1754
Black chalk and stump, heightened with white chalk, on blue paper, faded to grey-green
278 x 423 mm
10 15/16 x 16 5/8 in.
2004.43
D307
Framed by three stone pines on the right, a group of buildings is seen in the middle distance, with a ruined circular one in the centre. Beyond this at the right another circular building with a domed roof is the former Temple of Bacchus, now the Church of Santa Constanza. At the left more buildings include the tower and upper part of the Church of Sant' Agnese fuori le Mura. In the left foreground is an open stone sarcophagus, with its lid propped against it. In the centre two women accompanied by a dog converse with a seated man.
Birmingham 1948-49 (78); London 1949 (77)
William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801); by descent to William, 8th Earl of Dartmouth; his sale, Christie's, London, 29 January 1954 (11); Agnews, London; from whom acquired by C.L. Loyd, Lockinge, Berkshire; acquired by the Pierpont Morgan Library from Agnews, London through the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund, 1978
See 'Mount inscriptions'
[1] Inscribed verso: No. 49
[1] Signed and dated on border, lower left: RW.f Romae 1754.
[2] Inscribed on cartellino, lower centre: Temple | of | Bacchus.
[3] Inscribed on border, lower right: No. 9
D274 Temple of Bacchus, Rome , Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
A presentation version of a drawing made on the spot, this is one of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in 1754, of which 25 are known to survive. The Dartmouth set is the most important group of the artist's finished compositions on paper. Originally numbering 68, the drawings were highly prized by the earl and much admired by connoisseurs and artists of the day. Drawings from the set are distinguished by a white mount with lilac wash border, on which the artist attached a small white label, bearing the title of the work. Joseph Farington recorded in his Diary, 'Steers called, has bought a picture by Wilson (The Temple of Bacchus) for 48 guineas.' (21 March 1799). This painting is no longer known. The less elaborate version of the present drawing, however, is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (D274).
Farington Diary, vol. 4, p. 1180; vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, p. 345, no. 9; Ford 1951, pp. 30-31, 59, no. 52; L. Parris, The Loyd Collection of Paintings and Drawings, 1967, p. 76, no. 138; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195
This is one of 20 views of the environs of Rome referred to by Thomas Jenkins a letter dated 1 June 1754. Of these only no. 1 is missing from the serial numbers recorded in the lower right corner of each. All the Dartmouth drawings have numbers in graphite on the back, ranging (with gaps) from 23 to 61, thus supporting the total of 68 given by Farington. The mounts of all the surviving Dartmouth drawings, with their lilac wash borders, were made by Wilson or under his direction, perhaps by Jenkins.