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Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 77
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 77
1752
Black chalk on white paper
188 x 130 mm (volume: 203 x 143 mm)
8 x 5 5/8 in.
E.3586-1922
D53/77
View of a smoking volcano, seen on the right with another mountain to the left, across a river and rooftops in the foreground
Bt about 1922 from Miss Alice J. Bowles
Inscribed upper left in ink by a later hand: 'from the King of Naples Garden at Portici.'
The gardens are those of the royal palace of Portici just outside Naples,built from 1738 to 1742 for King Charles III of Naples and Sicily and his queen, Maria Amalia of Saxony. The gardens were later described as 'at the east on the slopes of Vesuvius: they are immense, little adorned, but with many trees that are always green, especially service and arbutus trees, which feed the thrushes that abound there.' (Corografia dell'Italia, 1834). The small buildings in the foreground may be part of the royal menagerie.
E60/25 John Whessell after Wilson, Studies & Designs: Vesuvius from the Royal Gardens, Naples, The British Museum
This is one of a number of drawings which attest to Wilson's visit to Naples in 1752. Wilson's commitment to landscape made soon after his arrival in Rome in late 1751 initiated a sustained burst of activity as a draughtsman which was to gain momentum over the next few years. One major piece of evidence for the seriousness with which he took his new career is provided by this and other pages of the surviving sketchbook from 1752. Although it contains a number of rapid sketches from nature and the antique, most of its leaves are filled with imaginary essays in landscape design, usually incorporating classical themes such as antique ruins but presented in a rococo manner, and, as noted by Solkin, 'using lazy curving forms and often capricious combinations of architectural motifs in a way that still recalls the works of Zuccarelli.' Increasingly, however, Wilson came to adopt a more naturalistic style.
Solkin 1982, pp. 152, 157
Only two sketchbooks by Wilson have survived - the present one (D53-D53/81) and D280-D280/33 Italian Sketchbook - Drawings, 1754, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
02/10/2017