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The Villa of Maecenas near Tivoli
The Trustees of the British Museum
Thomas Hastings after Wilson
The Villa of Maecenas near Tivoli
Published February 1821
Etching on chine collé
183 x 233 mm
7 1/4 x 9 3/16 in.
1854,0708.64
E72/7
The view is up the gorge of the River Aniene, showing the lower cascades in the middle distance and above them, the ruins of the so-called Villa of Maecenas or Temple of Hercules. On the right the small building on the hillside is the Tempio della Tosse (Temple of Coughing) - perhaps a tomb. Two women are fetching water from a brook in the foreground at the left with stone fragments from classical buildings nearby. A road leads off to a bridge at the right.
Bought from George Willis, Piazza, Covent Garden, 1854
Lettered below the image with the title, 'The Original is in the Possession of Lady Ford', production details and publication line: 'Painted by R. Wilson | 1771' ' Etched by T. Hastings | 1821' | 'pubd. in London Feby 1821'
The 'Villa of Maecenas' occupied a particularly lofty position in the esteem of British Grand Tourists since it brought to mind the most famous of all Roman cultural patrons. Maecenas had been one of the greatest Roman benefactors of the arts but was also perceived as the personification of decadent luxury. What were believed to be the ruins of his villa thus embodied both a high point of classical civilisation and the cause of its collapse. Hence this classical landscape held a moral lesson for the contemporary viewer. As noted by Solkin, however, the foreground and middleground of the composition seem to be entirely invented, while the villa itself and the temple are shown on a much lower slope than they occupy in reality.
D260 Villa of Maecenas, Tivoli, Tate, London
E77 J. Le Keux after Wilson, Maecenas' Villa at Tivoli, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
E79/2 Robert Brandard after Wilson, Maecenas' Villa at Tivoli, The British Museum
P71C Distant View of Maecenas' Villa, Tivoli, Private Collection, England plus other versions
Claude-Joseph Vernet The Falls of Tivoli (1753, WGC pl. 151b)
From a series of forty etchings after paintings by Richard Wilson and additional title page, bound in a volume in red tooled leather with gold decorative border, lettered on the spine with 'Wilson's | Etchings | by | Hastings'; the title page lettered in black and red: 'Etchings, | from the Works | of | [ facsimile of signature below portrait] Ric. Wilson | with Some Memoirs of his Life, &c. | by Thomas Hastings, Esq. | Collector of His Majesty's Customs. | "Non Ductus Officio Sed Amore Operis." Quintillian. | Published by Hurst, Robinson & Co. Cheapside, London. | Johnson, Typ. Apollo Press, 1825. Brook Street, Holborn'; containing twenty pages of Introductory and Concluding Remarks by the etcher, including descriptions of Richard Wilson's original paintings.
PPA324276
Hastings 1825; WGC, p. 226 under pl. 117b; Yule 2015, pp. 60 & 69
George Willis was an antiquarian book dealer, who occasionally published books and prints. His firm was active from 1832-1856 and sold many prints to the British Museum. In 1856 it merged with Thomas Sotheran to become Willis & Sotheran.
08/12/2017