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Baths of Dioclesian (The Baths of Diocletian)
The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Baths of Dioclesian (The Baths of Diocletian)
Dated 1754
Graphite, black and white chalk and stump on grey laid paper
278 x 418 mm
11 15/16 x 16 7/16 in.
D2007.DS.51
D305
The ruins of the baths are on the right with the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the centre of the composition
Birmingham 1948-49 (76); London 1949 (75)
Commissioned 1754 by William, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth; by descent until sold Christie's, 29 January 1954 (9); with Agnews, London, 1957; Dorothy Scharf Bequest, March 2007
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
[1] Original mount, upper right corner, black lead: 48
[2] Graphite upper left corner: 7343
[1] Signed and dated in black chalk on coloured border of original mount, lower left: R. W. f. Romae. 1754.
[2] Pen and brown ink on cartellino superimposed on coloured border of original mount, lower centre: Baths | of | Dioclesian.
[3] Black chalk on coloured border of original mount, lower right: No. 7
The Baths of Diocletian were public baths in Rome, named after emperor Diocletian and built from 298 to 306 AD. They were the largest and most impressive of the imperial baths, originally commissioned by Maximian on his return to Rome in the autumn of 298. The Baths are located on high ground at the north-east summit of the Viminal, the smallest of the seven hills of Rome. They remained in use until the Ostrogothic siege of Rome in 537, when the water supply ws destroyed. The basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri was later constructed in the ruins.
D106 Baths of Diocletian, The British Museum
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) iin 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 and artists of the day including William Lock of Norbury, and 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 picures 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. The present composition well demonstrates Wilson's guiding 'principles of light and shade' rather than any interest in colour for drawings. A drawing of the Baths from a different angle is in the British Museum (D106).
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1951, p. 60, no. 58; Solkin 1978, p. 406, pl. 20
Stains verso upper left and elsewhere