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Monte Palatino (The Palatine Hill, Rome)
Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Monte Palatino (The Palatine Hill, Rome)
Dated 1754
Black and white chalk, stump and grey wash on blue-grey wove paper
284 x 425 mm
11 3/16 x 16 3/4 in.
D.1954.3
D309
The view is from the summit of the hill with ancient ruins silhouetted on the left and cultivated land below at the right. More ruins and other buildings can be seen beyond, below a cloudy sky into which smoke rises from a fire in the middle distance.
Birmingham 1948-49 (80); London 1949 (79); Whitworth Art Gallery The University of Manchester 1973, British Artists in Europe (3)
William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801); by descent to William, 8th Earl of Dartmouth; his sale, Christies, London, 29 January 1954 (13); given by Friends of the Whitworth, 1954
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
[1] Upper left, pencil: 7397
[2] Upper centre, pencil: M.W.I. No. 2016
[3] Upper right, pencil: D/3/1954
[4] Upper right, black chalk [?]: 46
[5] Upper right corner, black chalk: 79
[1] Signed and dated on lilac border, lower left: R Wilson f Romae 1754.
[2] Inscribed on label lower centre: Monte | Palatino.
[3] Inscribed on lilac border, lower right: No. 11
The Palatine is one of the seven hills of Rome and one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 metres above the Roman Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other. In mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave where Romulus and Remus, founders of the city of Rome, were discovered by the she-wolf Lupa, who then nursed them. Many wealthy Romans of the Republican period had their residences on the Palatine and later several emperors resided there including Augustus, Tiberius and Domitian. Augustus also built a temple to Apollo there.
D303 The Palatine Mount, The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in 1754, of which 25 are known to survive. The Dartmouth set is the most important group of the artist's finished compositions on paper. Originally numbering 68, the drawings were highly prized by the earl and much admired by connoisseurs of the day including William Lock of Norbury, as well as the artists John Hoppner and Joseph Farington. Hoppner said of them, 'they were such as the Greeks would have made & put all others at a distance' and Farington was almost certainly referring to them when he characterised Wilson's drawings as having 'all the qualities of his pictures except the colour.' Drawings from the set are distinguished by a white mount with lilac wash border, on which the artist attached a small white label, bearing the title of the work.
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, p. 345, no. 5; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195; C. Nugent, British Watercolours in the Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester, 2003, p. 288
This is one of 20 views of the environs of Rome referred to by Thomas Jenkins a letter dated 1 June 1754. Of these only no. 1 is missing from the serial numbers recorded in the lower right corner of each. All the Dartmouth drawings have numbers in graphite on the back, ranging (with gaps) from 23 to 61, thus supporting the total of 68 given by Farington. The mounts of all the surviving Dartmouth drawings, with their lilac wash borders, were made by Wilson or under his direction, perhaps by Jenkins.
Outer dimensions of original lilac border: 359 x 500 mm (14 1/8 x 19 11/16 in.) Good condition overall; lilac border slightly but evenly faded, and crinkled lower right.