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Moor Park Hertfordshire
From the Collection of the Marquess of Zetland, Photo by Jerry Hardyman-Jones
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Moor Park Hertfordshire
c.1765-67 (undated)
Oil on canvas
146.2 x 181.5 cm (sight size)
57 9/16 x 71 7/16 in. (sight size)
Private Collection, England
130
P133
This country house portrait of Moor Park is set between two framing groups of trees in the right foreground and left middleground. The house itself stands in the background, viewed across a sunlit area of grass in which deer, sheep and a few seated or strolling figures may be seen. In the shaded foreground is a gentleman seated in a chaise, drawn by a grey horse and attended by a mounted figure. Behind and to the left a mounted gentleman has paused to speak to a standing, cross-legged man with a cane. In the lower right corner lies a piece of columnar stonework
BI 1865 (168); Birmingham 1948-49 (67); London 1949 (66)
Painted for Sir Lawrence Dundas; thence by descent
Unsigned; no inscription
The sky is thinly painted allowing the pink ground to show through
The frame is inscribed in black in upper centre: 130
Moor Park, Hertfordshire was purchased from the Duchess of Buccleuch in 1720 by Benjamin Hoskins Styles, who had made a fortune in the South Sea Company, and the house was remodelled for Styles in the 1720s. The principal architect was Sir James Thornhill - there is no documentary evidence to support the nineteenth-century attribution of Styles's alterations to Giacomo Leoni but he may have been consulted after Thornhill's dismissal following lawsuits in 1728 and 1730. Inside, Thornhill had been commissioned to paint the Great Hall, Grand Stair and Dome but had quarrelled with Styles and left the project before its completion. In 1751, the house was bought by Admiral Lord Anson who commissioned Matthew Brettingham the Elder to make alterations, and Capability Brown to remake the formal gardens with a small lake. By 1760 Moor Park had passed to Sir Lawrence Dundas, for whom Robert Adam was working there in 1763-66. Dundas is likely to be the gentleman in the pony-chaise and for whom this picture and its two companions (P134 and P135) were painted. One of the other figures may be his son, Thomas, later 1st Lord Dundas. Sir Lawrence himself suffered from gout, which would explain the position and size of his legs.
D228 Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782), Ionic Capitals, Private Collection, England
P134 Moor Park, Distant View towards Cassiobury, Private Collection, England
P135 View from Moor Park towards Rickmansworth, Private Collection, England
Joseph Farington, Richard Wilson painting in Moor Park, graphite on paper, 1765, Farington Sketchbook, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (75.1921)
The gentleman in the pony chaise is probably Sir Lawrence Dundas, Bart, 'The Nabob of the North', for whom this picture and its two companions (P134 and P135) were painted. The mounted figure at the left is probably his only son, Thomas Dundas, who succeeded him as second baronet in 1781 and was created Baron Dundas of Aske in 1794.
Moor Park Receipt 1767; Farington Diary, 14 August 1813; Waterhouse 1953, p. 177; WGC pp. 44, 72, 90. 181, pl. 46a; Constable 1962, p. 145, doc. 1; Apollo, September 1967; J. Harris, The Artist and the Country House, 1979, p. 273. fig. 29S; Solkin 1982, pp. 126-29
Moor Park, Hertfordshire, England
Farington describes riding in and near Moor Park 'where I went to three points from which drawings were made by R.Wilson, the eminent Landscape Painter & myself in the year 1765 while I was pupil to Him. From these drawings Wilson painted three pictures for the late Sir Lawrence Dundass [sic] father of Lord Dundass.'
A number of losses and old damages are visible along the lower edge of the painting. A darker border, visible beneath the frame at the upper right, demonstrates that the blue of the sky has faded. The gun held by the gentleman talking to Thomas Dundas was originally further to the left.
Kate Lowry has noted: The stretcher probably dates from early 20th century when the painting was glue relined. Original canvas is medium weight, simple weave. Original turnovers, removed at the time of lining, onto similar weight canvas. Ground appears to be pale pink and is visible in thinner parts of the sky as well as around the foliage masses and tree branches at the right of the composition. In the foreground it appears to be covered by a thin brown imprimatura. Upper part of the painting is sound and in good condition but the lower half has suffered widespread drying and mature crackle, the latter with raised edges leading to some flaking and minor paint loss.
15/01/2020