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River Mouth with Peasants dancing (Mediterranean Coastal Landscape at Dusk)
bpk | Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen/ Sammlung der HypoVereinsbank AG
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
River Mouth with Peasants dancing (Mediterranean Coastal Landscape at Dusk)
c.1770-80 (undated)
Oil on canvas
139.1 x 184.6 cm
54 3/4 x 72 11/16 in.
HuW 36
P177
A beautiful and highly atmospheric Italianate scene with extensive sea and mountains in the distance, framing trees and in the middle ground the mouth of a river with a ruined circular temple standing on its left bank next to a ruined bridge. Streams of light pour through the foliage at the right in the middle distance. In the foreground is a group of five gaily clad peasants, a man and a woman dancing at the left and nearer the centre a standing woman playing a lute, a seated man playing a flute and in front of them a reclining man in profile with a red sash. To their left are three sheep, one with horns, and to the right is a half-open antique tomb with a seated female figure in shadow at its left.
Manchester 1857 (Modern Masters, 41 Landscape); Leeds 1868 (1004 Italian Landscape, lent J.H. Barton); Munich, Haus der Kunst, Im Licht von Claude Lorrain: Landschaftsmalerei aus drei Jahrhunderten, 12 March - 29 May 1983 (134)
Richard Entwistle, Rousham, Oxfordshire by 1808; unknown dealer; John Barton of Swinton near Manchester (according to a note by an unknown dealer in an interleaved copy of Pilkington's Dictionary of Painters, 1824, owned by W.G. Constable); Mrs R. Fitzwilliams; Christie's 26 March 1976 (131); with Colnaghi London; bt 1978; on long-term loan to the Neue Pinakothek
Unsigned; no inscription
David Solkin has noted that all the known versions of this design display those distinct patches of colour lying loosely side by side and the numerous accentuations in free strokes of rich impasto which are characteristic of Wilson's seventies' works. The reflections lower right are lightly painted in over the priming layer of paint as is common with Wilson while the boldly painted undergrowth in the foreground supports a late dating for the picture. The trees at the right are painted over reserves, including the trunks. There are pentimenti at the edges of the foliage of the foremost tree on the left.
[1] Upper horizontal member of stretcher, left, in white chalk: LOT 131
[2] Upper horizontal member of stretcher, right, in white chalk: E0581x COLNAGI [sic]
[3] Upper left diagonal member of stretcher, white chalk: 26 3 76
[4] Lower end of left vertical member of stretcher, white chalk: E76 [obscured] S.
[5] Lower end of right vertical member of stretcher, white chalk: IMP 6 595 E0581
[6] Lower horizontal member of stretcher, left centre smudged white chalk: BULL
[7] Left end of upper horizontal member of stretcher, black sale stencil: 19XT
[1] Left end of upper horizontal member of stretcher, handwritten in ink: WO [?] 2911 [/] 3
[2] Upper right diagonal member of stretcher, inverted torn printed label with red border: O.M. DEPT. [/] No. 0167 [/] Date Photographed
[3] Left end of lower horizontal member of stretcher: Printed and handwritten exhibition label: HAUS DER KUNST MÜNCHEN [/] Im Licht von C. Lorrain [/] WILSON [/] Süde. Landschaft [/] Mu. Bayer. Hypo-Bank [/] Lwd. [/] 140 x 184 [/] cm [/] 134
[4] Middle of left upright member of stretcher: printed and typed upright museum label
The view has been identified as on the coast near Naples. If so the building on the left is intended as the 'Tomb of Virgil' and on the right at the horizon is the island of Capri. Joseph Farington observed that: 'The Scene represented (I understood) somewhere near Naples'. (Diary, 15 December 1808). An unknown 19th century writer later referred to it as a 'Scene on the Coast of Baia' (WGC p. 196). Baiae, north of Naples, was renowned in the 18th century for the profusion of its Roman remains. Having had villas belonging to Julius Caesar, Augustus, Pliny, Cicero and Pompey, as well as featuring in Homer's Cimmerians and Virgil's Aeneid, Baiae and its environs drew much attention from English Grand Tourists and provided Wilson with subjects for several of his paintings. However, this scene is more likely to be intended as a generalised evocation rather than a precise topographical view. Nevertheless the artist's favourite theme, Roman glory in decay contrasted with Arcadian perfection, is well served by the setting.
The frame is 19th-century gild
E72/26 Thomas Hastings, On the Arno The British Museum (1854,0708.83) and other impressions
E74 Samuel William Reynolds after Wilson, Evening, mezzotint (Gems of Art, 1 May 1824, pl. XII), The British Museum, and other impressions
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Solkin noted that this painting can probably be identified on the basis of its size and subject, with a work that Joseph Farington saw in Richard Entwistle's collection at Rousham in 1808 (Diary, 15 December 1808).
Farington Diary, 15 December 1808; WGC, p. 196, pl. 73a (version 6) and p. 216 under pl. 105a; Solkin 1982, p. 244; Marcel Roethlisberger et al., Im Licht von Claude Lorrain: Landschaftsmalerei aus drei Jahrhunderten, 1983, p. 206 and repr. as frontispiece; Neue Pinakothek. Katalog der Gemälde und Skulpturen, Munich-Cologne 2003, p. 429 (C. Heilmann)
Farington's Diary entry for 15 December 1808 read: ' Called at Mr Entwistle's at Rousham. Saw His large landscape by Wilson for which he gave 200 guineas and sd He had been told it was painted for Lord Egremont ...The Scene represented I understood somewhere near Naples ... The size of the picture was 6 feet wide by 4 feet 4 inches 1/2 sight measure.'
Glazed. The frame is 19th-century gilded with rococo-style decoration. Relined and in generally good condition. UV showed a small tear lower right and a larger one lower left. Inspection verso revealed that the latter was repaired after the relining. The stretcher is possibly contemporary with the canvas. It has one vertical bisecting member and keyed diagonal supports at the corners. That at the lower right and the adjoining horizontal member have been cut so as to permit repair of the tear in that area.
05/08/2016