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Studies & Designs: View of a Seashore with a naked Giant lying in the right Foreground surrounded by tiny Figures
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
John Whessell (c.1760-1806) after Wilson
Studies & Designs: View of a Seashore with a naked Giant lying in the right Foreground surrounded by tiny Figures
Published 1811
Soft-ground etching on India laid paper
97 x 148 mm
3 13/16 x 5 13/16 in.
NMW A 10964
E60/8A
View of a seashore with a gigantic naked figure lying in the right foreground, surrounded by miniature people - all within an etched rectangular border
Thomas Henry Thomas Bequest 1916
Lettered below the image: Wilson del | Whessell Sc
[1] Lower centre, pencil: 35
[2] Lower right, pencil: Landscape with figures
It has been suggested that Wilson's inspiration for this curious composition came from Swift's Gulliver's Travels or alternatively the description by the ancient author Philostratus (Imagines, II, 22) of Hercules among the Pygmies (see Bibliography, J. K. Welcher & R. Joseph and R. Halsband respectively).
D53/13 Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 13
D96 Gulliver Bound by the Lilliputians, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
E60/8 John Whessell after Wilson,Studies & Designs: View of a Seashore with a naked Giant lying in the right Foreground surrounded by tiny Figures, The British Museum
From a set of small soft-ground etchings by Whessell made after Wilson's drawings in a sketchbook at the Victoria & Albert Museum (D53-D53/81). The present one is taken from p. 13 (D53/13). In 1811 the etchings were published by the Oxford-based publisher, Robert Archer in more than one format.
The political satire, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift was first published in 1726 with the title, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships. Immediately popular, it was amended in 1735 and remained a universal favourite throughout the 18th century and beyond. The present print may illustrate Part 1, describing Gulliver's first voyage, when he is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself the prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. Alternatively the subject may be the classical one of Hercules among the Pygmies, which would accord witrh Wilson's known familiarity with ancient authors and explain the gigantic figure's nudity.
16.182
Archer 1811, p. 25; J.K. Welcher & R. Joseph, 'Gulliverian Drawings by Richard Wilson' Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 18, no. 2 (Winter, 1984-1985), pp. 170-85; R. Halsband, 'Comments on "Gulliverian Drawings by Richard Wilson"', Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (Winter, 1985-1986), pp. 254-56.
Proof state