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The Garden of the Villa Madama
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Garden of the Villa Madama
Undated
Oil on canvas
63.5 x 76.5 cm
25 x 30 1/8 in.
NMW A 5193
P91D
A lane runs across the foreground and on the left a man and a woman greet a friar. A cottage is at the centre, overhung by trees, while to the right on a gentle slope, a line of trees is silhouetted against the sunset sky.
Brighton 1920 (9 - The Hermitage)
Benjamin Booth; the Revd R.S. Booth; Marianne Booth, Lady Ford; by descent to Captain Richard Ford; his sale Christie's 14 June 1929 (12 - The Hermitage); bt Agnew (440 guineas); F.J. Nettlefold; presented by F.J. Nettlefold, 1946
Unsigned; no inscription
The double layer of white priming and the range of pigments are typical of Wilson's work, though the coarse canvas weave is a little unusual.
E14 William Byrne after Wilson A View in the Villa Madama, near Rome, called Il Teatro, 1765, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven (B1984.21.428);
E14A Byrne after Wilson, A View in the Villa Madama, near Rome, called Il Teatro, Victoria & Albert Museum, London;
E14B Byrne after Wilson, A View in the Villa Madama, near Rome, called Il Teatro, The British Museum
E14C Byrne after Wilson, A View in the Villa Madama near Rome called Il Teatro, Royal Academy of Arts
E14D Byrne after Wilson, View in the Villa Madama, National Museum Wales, Cardiff and other impressions
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Although technical analysis has provided no evidence to suggest that this is anything other than a work by Wilson himself the quality of the paintwork as discernible through the varnish and the lack of descriptive detail compared with other versions locate the painting as of replica status. However, Booth lists two pictures , one a sketch and one 'Finishd'. The present work is likely to be the former; the other version is untraced.
619
Booth Notes, Doc. 9 (42); Fletcher 1908, pp. 96, 192; Grundy & Roe, vol. 4, p. 154, repr.; WGC, p. 203
There is no evidence from X-ray or infra-red imagery. However, a very thick layer of discoloured resin varnish currently obscures the paint surface. Kate Lowry has noted:
Original canvas is loose, coarse, uneven weave, approx. 10 x 10 threads per sq. cm. The texture of the original canvas is fairly dominant throughout the painting especially through the mid-tones of the background. Original canvas turnovers have been removed at the time of lining. Lined onto a fine, close weave linen with glue-paste adhesive. Two old tears pre-date the lining. Pine stretcher dates from lining. Oil ground consists of two layers of white. Some red/brown underpaint in the foliage is visible through drying crackle. Fine mature crackle throughout. Some fine drying crackle in the foliage. The central area has been partially cleaned in the past and the discoloured varnish layer is considerably thicker around the edges of the painting and in the dark tones.