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Moor Park, Distant View towards Cassiobury
From the Collection of the Marquess of Zetland, Photo by Jerry Hardyman-Jones
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Moor Park, Distant View towards Cassiobury
c.1765-67 (undated)
Oil on canvas
147.6 x 184.3 cm
58 1/8 x 72 9/16 in.
Private Collection, England
P134
The view is north-east, towards Cassiobury House in far left distance. The streets of Watford are visible in the middle distance, and St Albans with its prominent abbey appears far right. Cassiobury belonged to the Earl of Essex until it was demolished in 1927. It seems to be the focus of attention for the artist sketching beneath the tree, and his companion. To their right and partly in their shadow is what appears to be a blank canvas, though its exact status is uncertain as it is too big to be used for drawing, yet there are no painters' materials apparent. A third man sits under the tree with his back to the viewer. The time is evening. In the foreground are ruins of classical architecture, including an Ionic capital based on D228, and a nurse with a well-dressed child.
SA 1767 (184 - View of Moor Park toward Cashiobury, Watford and St Albans); BI 1814 (73/76 or 85/88) both described as View from Moor Park, Hertfordshire); BI 1865 (144); Birmingham 1948-49 (65); London 1949 (64)
Painted for Sir Lawrence Dundas; thence by descent
Unsigned; no inscription
The surface is busy. There are pentimenti behind both the male and female standing figures and to the right of the child's outstretched hand. A pupil's handling may be discerned in the broad, vague handling of the tree and its foliage to the right. The sky has a pink ground.
Pencil inscription on stretcher: 130
The frame is inscribed in black in upper centre: 160
[1] Birmingham 1948 label verso upper left: 65
[2] Tate 1949 label verso upper left: 64
D228 Ionic Capitals, Private Collection, England
P133 Moor Park Hertfordshire, Private Collection, England
P135 View from Moor Park towards Rickmansworth, Private Collection, England
[1] John Wootton, Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire, 1748, Private Collection, USA
[2] Joseph Farington, Richard Wilson painting in Moor Park, graphite on paper, 1765, Farington Sketchbook, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (75.1921)
The artist and his companion are presumably intended as Wilson himself and his pupil, Joseph Farington, who five decades later described 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 of a large size for the late Sir Lawrence Dundass [sic]'.
According to A. Graves this picture was described by Horace Walpole in his annotated catalogue of the Society of Artists exhibiton of 1767 as 'The view, a flat one, very fine'. (See Bibliography).
Moor Park Receipt 1767; Farington Diary, vol. 12, p. 4410 (13 October 1800); (14 August 1813); Catalogue 1814, p. 16 or 17; A. Graves, The Society of Artists of Great Britain [...], 1907, p. 283; Waterhouse 1953, p. 177; WGC, p. 182 pl. 46c; Constable 1962, p. 145, doc. 1; Solkin 1982, pp. 126-29; Bonehilll and Daniels, p. 206; Solkin 2015, p. 215
Tempting as it might be to assume that the child with the nurse is Lawrence Dundas, Sir Lawrence's grandson, it cannot be so as he was not born until 1766.
Conserved 2012-13. The canvas has a stiff wax lining. Kate Lowry has noted: Pine stretcher probably dating from a relining treatment. The original canvas is medium weight, simple weave and glue lined onto a similar weight canvas. It was not possible to see whether the original turnovers have survived or were removed at the time of lining. The present lining is with wax adhesive so probably dates from 1970s. The ground is pink, as it is for the other two paintings in this series and this is visible in places in the centre sky and around the foliage at the right of the composition. The texture of the sky is unusually messy for Wilson suggesting either a reworking of another composition or the work of a pupil.
22/02/2022