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A Ruin, Arch at Kew Gardens
City & County of Swansea: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Collection
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
A Ruin, Arch at Kew Gardens
c.1760 (undated)
Black chalk and stump over graphite on smooth white paper
283 x 426 mm
11 1/8 x 16 3/4 in.
GV DF 2062
D357A
The scene is set in Kew Gardens. To the left an artist is drawing and in the right middle ground, there is a female nude at whom two boys peer over the railings, upper right. Further away, beneath and through the arch a standing figure and sculpture on a pedestal are visible.
London, Royal Academy Primitives to Picasso : An Exhibition from Municipal and University Collections in Great Britain, 1962 (360); London 1973-74 (33); Swansea 1999
Joseph Farington; possibly W.E. Esdaile; his sale Christie's 21 March 1838 (781 - The Roman Ruins in Kew Gardens; heightened with brilliant effect (£1-5-0)); John Deffett Francis; presented to Swansea before 1887
Unsigned; no inscription
A framing line has been drawn horizontally across the bottom, partly obscured by the mount
[1] Brown ink monogram verso: Joseph Farington (Lugt 1453)
[1] In brown ink and Farington's hand: Wilson
Kew Gardens lie on the opposite side of the Thames from Syon House. Kew Park was enlarged and embellished by Augusta, Dowager Princess of Wales from 1759, when the arch was built 'to make a passage for carriages and cattle, over one of the principal walks of the garden' [and] 'to imitate antiquity'. (W. Chambers, 'A Description of the Palace and Gardens at Kew, the seat of the Princess Dowager of Wales', Royal Magazine, September 1763, p. 154).
D357/1 The Ruined Arch at Kew (recto), Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
D357/2 Sketch of an Urn (verso) Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
E72/17 Thomas Hastings after Wilson,Villa Borghese, The British Museum (1854,0708.74) and other impressions
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P108 The Arch in Kew Gardens, Private Collection, England
P108A Kew Gardens, Surrey, Ruined Arch, Gloucester City Museum and Art Gallery
Probably a development of P108. A nude female figure is added to the right and various pieces of antique stonework are scattered in the foreground. Additional figures appear in the background looking over the fence. D357A may have been the drawing 'The Roman Ruins in Kew Gardens, heightened with brilliant effect' mentioned by Ford as selling for £1 5s. at the Esdaile sale, Christie's 21 March 1838 (781). The broad and rather smudgy style, however, would also accord with the work's having been executed on the spot and left unfinished in places. This might also explain the exaggerated perspective of the urn at the upper left and that of the shadow beneath the arch itself. A related etching of 1822 by Thomas Hastings (E72/17) incorrectly located the arch at the Villa Borghese, Rome.
Cooper 1948 2, p. 348; Ford 1951, p. 62, no. 71; Themes and Variations 1999, p. 25 repr.
Patches of discolouration are evident, e.g. round the figures to the right of the arch. Faint traces of graphite in the sky at the upper left might suggest that the paper has been re-used.
06/12/2016