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The Thames near Marble Hill, Twickenham
Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Thames near Marble Hill, Twickenham
c.1760-63 (undated)
Oil on canvas
60.2 x 91.5 cm
23 11/16 x 36 in.
NWHCM: 1955.174.955 F
P89
A view along the river, with a man leaning against a tree in the foreground, watching his two companions bathing. A laden barge is sailing downstream and beyond it is a house revealed through the tree-line. The sun sets behind fleecy clouds, which are reflected in the water.
SA 1762 (133 - a version); BI 1814; Brighton 1920 (19); Wembley 1924-25 (V.4); New York 1925, Grand Central Art Galleries (75); London 1925 (20); Manchester 1925 (62); London 1928, Daily Telegraph Exhibition, Olympia (61); Guildhall Art Gallery London, 1971, London and the Greater Painters (14); Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, 1977, De Gainsborough a Bacon (63); Kenwood, Iveagh Bequest 1986, Finest Prospects. Three Historic Houses, a Study in London Topography (46, repr.); Holburne Museum Bath 1991, A Gift to the Nation (39 repr.)
Jeremiah Meyer R.A.; Benjamin Booth; The Revd R.S. Booth; Lady Ford; Richard Ford; Sir Francis Clare Ford; Captain Richard Ford; his sale, Christie's 14 June 1929 (10), bt Gooden & Fox (6400 guineas); Ernest E. Cook, 1, Sion Hill Place, Bath; bequeathed by Ernest E. Cook through the National Art Collections Fund, 1955
Unsigned; no inscription
The heavy and prominent impasto of the clouds is perhaps caused through relining. The figures are clumsy yet there is hardly any overpaint, except for a head in the water and where the edges of the foliage have been touched up. The tree at the right is reserved out as normal. There is a tiny figure in red trousers beyond the trees to the left. The varnish is quite thick but not discoloured. The liveliness of the painted surface argues for an early work.
[1] Upper central vertical stretcher, white chalk or watercolour: 36
[1] Stretcher l.l. old and outlined in blue: [illegible except n[?] R[?]
[2] Horizontal stretcher upper left, fragmentary old label in black ink reattached [from earlier stretcher?]: Etched by T. Hastings [/]1823
E72/31 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, On the Thames, The British Museum (1854,0708.88)
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Peter Tillemans (c. 1684-1734), View of the Thames at Twickenham, c. 1720-25, Richmond upon Thames Borough Art Collectrion, Orleans House, London
The large number of versions confirms this as one of Wilson's most popular English subjects. This is one of four versions known to have been painted by Wilson and is regarded as the earliest. A further twelve copies dating from the 18th and 19th centuries have also been identified.
174.955
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Wright 1824; Smith 1828, I, p. 129; Waagen 1854, II, p. 226; Fletcher 1908, pp. 141-42; Henry D. Roberts, 'The Ford Collection of Works by Richard Wilson', Connoisseur, May 1920, p. 34, repr. p. 30; Rutter 1923; WGC, pp. 89, 187, pl. 57a; 52nd Report of the National Art Collections Fund 1955, 1956, pp. 36-7, repr. opp. p.24; Davies 1959, p. 106; Jean-Jacques Mayoux, English Painting, 1975, p. 86 repr. p. 82; 'Naissance de la Peinture anglaise', L'Oeil 6, 1977, no. 263, repr. p. 16; Apollo, May 1991
Marble Hill House was built for Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II and was later occupied by Mrs Fitzherbert, mistress and morganatic wife of King George IV. As a Palladian villa the house could claim kinship to both the great Palladio and the architectural heritage of ancient Rome. The Thames at Twickenham had attracted painters from the 1720s, largely on account of the villa there belonging to Alexander Pope who lived there from 1719 until his death in 1744.The frame is Neo-Classical in style but later in date, possibly a Cook frame
Original canvas size: 60 x 90.5 cm; 23 5/8 x 35 5/8 in. Retouching evident in the central area to cover extensive repaired cracking. A marked horizontal line, possibly dust, runs along the base about 12 mm. up from the bottom of the picture. Kate Lowry has noted:
Glue relined with original turnovers removed. Original canvas is simple weave. Examination under UV light shows the canvas in good condition without tears. Five member stretcher probably dates from the relining. Label glued onto an earlier piece of canvas, possibly a previous lining canvas, suggests this is not its first relining. Ground not easily visible as paint film covers it fully and canvas edges are retouched. However, probably off-white in colour and a smooth, commercial oil preparation. There are severe drying cracks in the river and boat right of centre which have been retouched. Some overpaint in sky at upper right. UV examination shows minor strengthening to the outer edges of all tree foliage, leg of main standing figure and head of swimming boy.