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The Palatine Mount
The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Palatine Mount
Dated 1754
Black chalk and stump heightened with white on grey laid paper
280 x 424 mm
10 7/8 x 16 3/8 in.
P.123
D303
A scene on a road receding diagonally towards the right with a group of three women and a child with a bird or doll standing in the centre and an artist sitting, drawing to their left. Beyond a low wall are classical ruins and the scene is framed by a group of trees, left and the corner of a building, an obelisk and a group of distant cypresses, right.
Birmingham 1948-49 (74); London 1949 (73); Norwich 1958 (63); London, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, 1962, Watercolours and Drawings from The Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford (20); Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 1971, Centenary Exhibition, Paesaggio e Veduta a Roma dal Seicento al Ottocento; London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (44); London, Thos. Agnew & Sons, 9 October-1 November 2002, Three Centuries of Watercolour Painting in Britain; The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford, 13 September 2005-15 January 2006, Drawn (unnumbered); The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford, 10 October 2015-10 April 2016, J.M.W. Turner and the Art of Watercolour (unnumbered).
Commissioned 1754 by William Legge 2nd Earl of Dartmouth; thence by descent to the 8th Earl of Dartmouth; Christie's London 20 January 1954 (7); Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, from whom purchased by the Higgins Gallery, July 1957
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
[1] Collection stamp verso, lower left: 'CECIL HIGGINS TRUST' round a swan within a double circle
[1] Original mount, now missing, said to have been inscribed in black lead: '55'
[1] Black chalk on coloured border, lower left: R.W.f. Romae 1754.
[2] Pen and brown ink on label superimposed on coloured border, lower centre: Palatine | Mount
[3] Black chalk on coloured border, lower right: No. 5.
The Palatine is one of the seven hills of Rome and one of the most ancient parts of the city. It stands 40 metres above the Roman Forum, looking down upon it on one side, and upon the Circus Maximus on the other. In mythology, the Palatine Hill was the location of the cave where Romulus and Remus, founders of the city of Rome, were discovered by the she-wolf Lupa, who then nursed them. Many wealthy Romans of the Republican period had their residences there, including Catiline, Cicero and Clodius. Augustus was born on the Palatine and established his residence there after the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C. He also built a temple to Apollo on the hill. Several other emperors later resided there including Tiberius and Domitian. It is not surprising, therefore, that British grand tourists were drawn to the Palatine.
D211 View from the Palatine Hill (?), Private Collection, England
D212 The Aviaries of the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine, Rome, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart
D309 Monte Palatino, Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in 1754, of which 25 are known to survive. The Dartmouth set is the most important group of the artist's finished compositions on paper. Originally numbering 68, the drawings were highly prized by the earl and much admired by connoisseurs and artists of the day including William Lock of Norbury, and the artists John Hoppner and Joseph Farington. Hoppner said of them, 'they were such as the Greeks would have made & put all others at a distance' and Farington was almost certainly referring to them when he characterised Wilson's drawings as having 'all the qualities of his pictures except the colour.' Drawings from the set are distinguished by a white mount with lilac wash border, on which the artist attached a small white label, bearing the title of the work. The Dartmouth set also included another quite different view of the Palatine Mount (D309, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester). D211 and D212 are drawings of or on it from other angles. Another was formerly in the Iolo Williams collection and went through Sotheby's London, 31 March 1999 (23 - current location unknown).
P.112
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, p. 345, no. 5; Ford 1951, pp. 23, 60, no. 56; Solkin 1982, p. 169; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195; C. Powell, Turner in the South, 1987, pp. 46-48, fig. 54; A. Wilton & I. Bignamini eds, Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth Century, 1996, p. 131 & fig. 5.
Mount size: 510 x 687 mm. Conserved at the British Museum, 1989.
19/03/2018