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Ford May 1951
Ford May 1951
Brinsley Ford
'Richard Wilson in Rome: I - The Wicklow Wilsons'
The Burlington Magazine
London, UK
May 1951
Secondary published
Vol. 93, no. 578, pp. 157-67. The article, based on the Wicklow family papers, identifies, explores and contextualises the then recently-discovered paintings commissioned by Ralph Howard, later Viscount Wicklow during his Grand Tour of 1751-52. The eight paintings seem to have been forgotten from 1853 until 1950, when they were sold among the contents of Shelton Abbey, Arklow, Ireland. They are: P38 Head of an old Man; P39 Head of a Capuchin Monk; P40 Narcissus; P41 Venus and Satyr; P50 Landscape with Banditti: The Murder; P51 Landscape with Banditti round a Tent; P54 The Departure of Regulus; P55 The Summons of Cincinnatus.
Ford's conclusion is that ' ... during his first year in Rome, Zuccarelli, Marco Ricci, Piazzetta, Salvator Rosa, Titian, Nicolas and Gaspar Poussin, Claude, and even classical antiquities were all drawn upon in varying degrees by Wilson [...] The Wicklow pictures show us what Wilson was doing shortly after his arrival in Rome. They show us clearly that he was in an experimental stage in his development, when he was struggling hard to discover, first by painting in one style, then in another, which particular branch of art to pursue [...] To what extent Wilson was guided by Vernet it is impossible to say, but the experience gained from painting the Wicklow pictures, which reveal at once both his gifts and limitations, must have been an important factor in deciding him that landscape painting was his true vocation. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that the year 1752 marks a vital turning point in his career.'