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Coastal Scene
The Trustees of the British Museum
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Coastal Scene
c.1751 (undated)
Red and black chalk on paper
114 x 184 mm
4 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.
There are inlets with overhanging cliffs to the right and in the background. Set back on the foremost cliff is a tower, and another appears on a distant promontory. In front at the left are some rocks on which two men are standing. There are two others in a boat to the right, and more boats can be seen under the cliffs.
London 1949 (115b); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (15); Tercentenary 2014 (7)
Given by John Deffett Francis, February 1881
Unsigned; no inscription
The mixture of red and black chalk is unusual for Wilson but the drawing may be seen as an exercise in the basics of rococo landscape design
Claude-Joseph Vernet, Seashore, Hermitage, St Petersburg
This is one of a number of apparently fantastic landscapes produced by Wilson during his first year in Italy. He arrived in Venice in October or November 1750 and stayed there for about a year. The drawing may have been executed in Venice itself or soon afterwards, during his journey south to Rome, but in any case it is not likely to be topographical. As noted by Solkin, the use of different colours, unusual for Wilson, here produces a thoughtful arrangement of chiaroscuro so as to form a decorative pattern within the conventions of rococo landscape design. The composition in general terms bears some resemblance to Seashore and similar paintings by Claude-Joseph Vernet, who was to become a major influence on Wilson's development as a landscape painter in Rome.
851/11 (30)
Binyon 51(b); Solkin 1982, p. 154; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 210-11