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The Thames near Marble Hill, Twickenham
Private Collection, England / Photograph by Christopher Chard
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Thames near Marble Hill, Twickenham
c. 1762 (undated)
Oil on canvas
59 x 91 cm
23 1/4 x 35 13/16 in.
Private Collection, England
The view is taken from the south side of the Thames near Richmond and shows the prospect upstream to Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, with shipping and bathers. Marble Hill House is visible (though not accurately reproduced) through the trees to the right.
SA 1762 (133 - a version); London, Royal Academy, 1882, Exhibition of the Works of the Old Masters (48); Plymouth 1970, Art Treasures from West Country Collections (32); Kenwood 1986, Finest Prospects: Three Historic Houses (45)
Sir John St. Aubyn, 3rd Bart, by 1816; thence by descent
Unsigned; no inscription
[1] Upper horizontal member of frame, inscribed: 16
Verso of stretcher, three exhibition labels:
[1] Centre of upper horizontal stretcher member: 'ROYAL ACADEMY EXHIBITION OF THE WORKS OF THE OLD MASTERS, 1882 | Wilson | Landscape | Rev. Sr A.H. Molesworth St Aubyn | Clowance Camborne'
[2] Upper end of central vertical stretcher member: 'CITY OF PLYMOUTH | ART TREASURES FROM WEST COUNTRY COLLECTIONS | Richard Wilson | The Thames near Marble Hill | 32 | Col. Molesworth-St. Aubyn
[3] Below [2]: 'ENGLISH HERITAGE | THE IVEAGH BEQUEST KENWOOD | HAMPSTEAD LANE, LONDON NW3 7JR | Exhibition: FINEST PROSPECTS | Cat. no: 45 | Richard Wilson | The Thames near Marble Hill | Lt. Col. Sir Arscott Molesworth-St.Aubyn, | Bt.'
[4] Upper left corner of frame in red: 90
[5] Upper left corner of frame: [illegible] | Ante room
The region had come to acquire an elevated status by the third quarter of the 18th century, and had attracted artists from the 1720s, notably from the presence and publications of Alexander Pope, who made Twickenham his home from 1719 until his death in 1744. As a Palladian villa, Marble Hill House could claim kinship with both the great Venetian Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio (1508-80) and the architectural heritage of ancient Rome.
E72/31 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, On the Thames, The British Museum (1854,0708.88)
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Peter Tillemans (c. 1684-1734), View of the Thames at Twickenham, c. 1720-25, Richmond upon Thames Borough Art Collection, Orleans House, London
It is virtually certain that this is the painting referred to by Farington in his diary on 22 May 1816: 'Thence to Biggs where I saw a View of the Thames &c by Wilson belonging to Sir J. St. Aubyn [...] Calcott & Turner came there, - Turner much admired the Wilson.' The numerous versions confirm this as one of Wilson's most popular English subjects. P89G is one of four known to have been painted by Wilson himself and is widely regarded as the earliest. A further dozen or more copies dating from the 18th and 19th centuries have been identified.
Farington Diary, vol. 14, p. 4840; J. Bryant, Finest Prospects, 1986, pp. 76-77
Marble Hill House was built for Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II and was later occupied by Mrs Fitzherbert, mistress and morganatic wife of King George IV. In 1775 Robert Mylne built The Wick on Richmond Hill for Lady St. Aubyn, widow of Sir John, 3rd Bart.
Kate Lowry has noted: Examined in frame, off the wall. The gilt compo frame is probably not contemporary with the painting. Frame is unglazed and not backed. Painting is held loosely in frame with nails and corks. Support: Original canvas is medium weight, simple weave linen. Relined with wax adhesive onto a similar weight linen canvas. According to the current owner relining was carried out in 1986 when the painting was borrowed for an English Heritage exhibition, Finest Prospects, at Kenwood House. Attachment to stretcher is by tacks through the lining turnover edges. Original turnovers could not be seen, but may have been removed at the time of first lining. The stretcher is not original and probably dates from relining although it still retains some older exhibition labels. The pine stretcher has four members, square mortice joints and provision for keying out. All keys are present. The stretcher and the lining are in good condition. The painting support is quite flat and tension is good. Ground: As the turnovers are not visible and the paint film quite opaque, it is difficult to assess the ground, however mature cracks in the sky suggest that it is grey in colour and it appears to be smooth. Paint Film: Oil medium. Paint applied opaquely with some slight impasto in the distant river landscape, foreground figures and tree foliage. Characteristic of Wilson is the range of green and brown tones used in the foliage, the distant landscape rendered with a few strong and expressive brushstrokes and the tiny figures on the other side of the river at the right of the composition. Generally in very good condition with just one small retouched damage in the sky to the left of the right hand tree foliage. This is visible in normal light. Under UV light no other damages are visible. The dark parallel brushstrokes in the right hand tree appear rather mechanical and may be by a later hand attempting to make the foliage look more substantial here. Surface Film: Overall coating of resin varnish dating from the cleaning treatment which took place in 1986. In good condition. The general condition of the painting is excellent. The paint film and ground are secure and the support is sound.