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The Thames near Marble Hill, Twickenham
Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Thames near Marble Hill, Twickenham
c.1760-63 (undated)
Oil on canvas
60.2 x 91.5 cm
23 11/16 x 36 in.
NWHCM: 1955.174.955 F
P89
The view is taken from the south side of the Thames near Petersham and shows the prospect upstream towards Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, with the pediment of Marble Hill House visible through the trees to the right. At the bend of the river the red brick of Ham House may be discerned and to its left the cottages of the village of Ham. In the foreground a man is leaning against a tree, watching his two companions bathing, with a third seated next to him. To their left a laden barge is sailing downstream while two horses and a rider head in the opposite direction on the near bank. There is a tiny figure in red trousers beyond the trees to the left, and in the sky the afternoon sun breaks through fleecy clouds, which are reflected in the water.
SA 1762 (133 - a version); BI 1814; Brighton 1920 (19); Wembley 1924-25 (V.4); New York 1925, Grand Central Art Galleries (75); London 1925 (20); Manchester 1925 (62); London 1928, Daily Telegraph Exhibition, Olympia (61); Guildhall Art Gallery London, 1971, London and the Greater Painters (14); Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, 1977, De Gainsborough a Bacon (63); Kenwood, Iveagh Bequest, 1986, Finest Prospects. Three Historic Houses, a Study in London Topography (46, repr.); Holburne Museum Bath, 1991, A Gift to the Nation (39, repr.)
Jeremiah Meyer R.A.; his sale, Mr Greenwood, Leicester Square, 4 March 1790 (36 - A View on the Thames, a beautiful scene, £17.6.0.); Benjamin Booth; The Revd R.S. Booth; Lady Ford; Richard Ford; Sir Francis Clare Ford; Captain Richard Ford; his sale, Christie's 14 June 1929 (10), bt Gooden & Fox (6400 guineas); Ernest E. Cook, 1, Sion Hill Place, Bath; bequeathed by Ernest E. Cook through the National Art Collections Fund, 1955
Unsigned; no inscription
The heavy and prominent impasto of the clouds is perhaps caused through relining. The figures are clumsy yet there is hardly any overpaint, except for a head in the water and where the edges of the foliage have been touched up. The tree at the right is painted onto a reserve as normal. The varnish is quite thick but not discoloured. The liveliness of the painted surface argues for an early work.
[1] Upper central vertical stretcher, white chalk or watercolour: 36
[1] Stretcher lower left. old and outlined in blue: [illegible except] n [?] R [?]
[2] Horizontal stretcher upper left, fragmentary old label in black ink reattached [from earlier stretcher?]: Etched by T. Hastings | 1823
The Thames at Twickenham was a fashionable location, which had attracted painters from the 1720s. The region had come to acquire an elevated status by the third quarter of the 18th century from the presence and publications of Alexander Pope, who made Twickenham his home from 1719 until his death in 1744 and was much involved in the planning of the gardens at Marble Hill. 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. Later Sir Joshua Reynolds was amongst those who lived in the area.
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
The large number of versions confirms this as one of Wilson's most popular English subjects. P89 is one of four versions known to have been painted by him, and is regarded as the earliest. A further twelve copies dating from the 18th and 19th centuries have also been identified.
174.955
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Booth Notes Doc. 8; Booth Notes Doc. 9 (44); Wright 1824; Smith 1828, I, p. 129; Fletcher 1908, pp. 141-42; Henry D. Roberts, 'The Ford Collection of Works by Richard Wilson', Connoisseur, May 1920, p. 34, repr. p. 30; Rutter 1923; WGC, pp. 89, 187, pl. 57a; 52nd Report of the National Art Collections Fund 1955, 1956, pp. 36-37, repr. opp. p. 24; Jean-Jacques Mayoux, English Painting, 1975, p. 86 repr. p. 82; 'Naissance de la Peinture anglaise', L'Oeil 6, 1977, no. 263, repr. p. 16; Apollo, May 1991
Marble Hill House was built for Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk and mistress of King George II. Roger Morris oversaw the construction of the house, which was completed in 1729. It was later occupied by Mrs Fitzherbert, mistress and morganatic wife of King George IV. The painting's first owner, Jeremiah Meyer (1735-1789) was a successful miniature painter and Founder Member of the Royal Academy.
Original canvas size: 60 x 90.5 cm; 23 5/8 x 35 5/8 in. The frame is Neo-Classical in style but later in date, possibly a Cook frame. Retouching evident in the central area to cover extensive repaired cracking. A marked horizontal line, possibly dust, runs along the base about 12 mm up from the bottom of the picture.
Kate Lowry has noted: Glue relined with original turnovers removed. Original canvas is simple weave. Examination under UV light shows the canvas in good condition without tears. Five member stretcher probably dates from the relining. Label glued onto an earlier piece of canvas, possibly a previous lining canvas, suggests this is not its first relining. Ground not easily visible as paint film covers it fully and canvas edges are retouched. However, probably off-white in colour and a smooth, commercial oil preparation. There are severe drying cracks in the river and boat right of centre which have been retouched. Some overpaint in sky at upper right. UV examination shows minor strengthening to the outer edges of all tree foliage, leg of main standing figure and head of swimming boy.
22/03/2021