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Celadon and Amelia
The Trustees of the British Museum
William Woollett (1735-1785) and John Browne (1741-1801) after Wilson
Celadon and Amelia
1766
Etching
436 x 546 mm
17 1/8 x 21 1/2 in.
S,1.32
E18B
Celadon is seen at the centre, looking to the heavens with his arms outstretched in disbelief and grief. Amelia lies dead at his feet. In the background, there is a house with a shepherd driving his sheep up a hill, on which is a fortress. To the right, a bay is visible with stormy seas and a broken bridge. The sky dark is with storm clouds, though clearing to the right of the fortress.
Lettered below the image 'R.Wilson pinxit' and 'Woollett et Browne fecit'
The subject derives from The Seasons by the Scottish poet and playwright, James Thomson (1700-1748) - specifically Summer (ll. 1191 ff.), first published in 1727.
D135 Broken Trees on a Mountain, The British Museum
D362 Study for Celadon and Amelia, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
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The engraving is of an unlocated painting exhibited by Wilson at the Society of Artists in 1765 (157), entitled A Summer Storm with the Story of the Two Lovers from Thompson (Celadon and Amelia). Its original owner is cited as William Lock of Norbury, the artist's travelling companion from Venice to Rome 15 years previously. Solkin has described the subject as a modern, English, Christian equivalent to the 'Destruction of the Children of Niobe' (see P90 and other versions), noting that such a moral theme was well suited to a landscape painter of Wilson's Grand Style pretensions. The design appropriately recalls storm scenes by Gaspard Dughet and mountain views by Salvator Rosa, both of whom were admired by Thomson.
Fagan 1885, p. 26 cat. LVII, 2nd State; WGC, p. 165 under pl. 24b; Solkin 1982, pp. 220-21 (entry on one of several impressions at the British Museum); S. Mitchell, 'James Thomson's Picture Collection and British History Painting', Journal of the History of Collections, vol. 23, no. 1 (2011), pp. 127-28; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 284 (entry on E18, an impression at YCBA)
WGC notes that a line engraving of the composition, published in France by J.J. Avril (1771-1835) and derived from the Woollett engraving, in earlier impressions has the name of Wilson as painter but substitutes that of Vernet in later impressions.
08/02/2017