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Ponte Molle, Monte Mario
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Ponte Molle, Monte Mario
Dated 1754
Black chalk heightened with white on grey laid paper laid down on buff laid paper within original lilac wash border
Object size: 356 x 491 mm; drawing size: 283 x 417 mm
Object size: 14 x 19 5/16 in.; drawing size: 11 1/8 x 16 3/8 in.
57.7
D302
A scene from high ground above the Milvian Bridge (Ponte Molle), Rome, with Monte Mario on the right and St Peter's in the distance beyond a bend in the River Tiber. In the left foreground are two monks and a pilgrim with staff.
Birmingham 1948-49 (73); London 1949 (72); J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA Rome the Grand Tour, October 2001 - August 2002; Tercentenary 2014 (63)
William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, who commissioned it in Rome in 1753; by descent until lost; rediscovered by Lady Dartmouth, Patshull House, Wolverhampton 1948; Christie's 29 January 1954 (6); Thomas Agnew & Sons, 43, Old Bond Street, London W.1.; purchased by The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, October 1957
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
[1] Upper left corner, pencil: 7390 GWGA
[2] Upper right corner in an old hand, graphite: 56
[3] Upper right corner in a different hand, graphite: 72 [?]
[1] Signed and dated on coloured border lower left: R.W. Romae. 1754.
[2] Inscribed in black ink on white cartellino lower centre: Ponte Molle | Monte Mario Vc. [?] or Vi. [?]
[3] Inscribed on added piece of coloured border lower right: No. 4
The Ponte Milvio or Molle was renowned primarily as the place where the Roman Emperor Constantine defeated Maxentius on 28 October 312 AD.
D228 Ionic Capitals, Private Collection, England
E72/38 Hastings after Wilson, View on the Tiber with Rome in the Distance, The British Museum
P64 Rome from the Ponte Molle, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
[1] Francis Towne (1739-1816): The Ponte Molle, watercolour, 1781, The British Museum (Nn,1.20)
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 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 Ionic capitals lying in the centre foreground are taken from Wilson's study D228 Ionic Capitals, Private Collection, England.
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, fig. 4, p. 345, no. 4; Ford 1951, p. 60, no. 59; WGC, pp. 219-20, pl. 109a; Apollo, May 1967; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 252
This is one of 20 views of the environs of Rome referred to by Thomas Jenkins in a letter dated 1 June 1754. Of these only no. 1 is missing from the serial numbers recorded in the lower right corner of each. All the Dartmouth drawings have numbers in graphite on the back, ranging (with gaps) from 23 to 61, thus supporting the total of 68 given by Farington. The mounts of all the surviving Dartmouth drawings, with their lilac wash borders, were made by Wilson or under his direction, perhaps by Jenkins.
Very good condition overall. Some spotting, lower centre. A small piece of coloured paper has been added to the border at the lower right corner, perhaps to make up for a mismeasurement or to cover an earlier inscription.