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Landscape Capriccio with the Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii and the Villa of Maecenas at Tivoli
The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Landscape Capriccio with the Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii and the Villa of Maecenas at Tivoli
Dated 1754
Oil on canvas
99.1 x 134.5 cm
39 x 52 15/16 in.
P.1998-0005
P67
In the foreground to the right is the so-called tomb of the early Republican heroes, the Horatii and Curiatii, located on the Via Appia Nuova southeast of Albano, on the road to Ariccia. Opposite is a colossal female figure, probably based on a statue at the Villa Medici, later restored to represent the goddess Roma. The villa of Augustus's courtier, Maecenas, dominates the middle distance.
Society of Artists 1760 (73); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (72); National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, Hubert Robert: Les Jardins du Temps, 6 March - 20 May 2012 (101)
Stephen Beckingham, bt from Wilson in Rome, 1754; the Hon. Mrs Montagu; Mr Brickdale; Samuel Woodburn; Thomas Wright, Upton Hall, Newark by 1824; Mrs C. Wright estate sale, Christie's 7 June 1845 (53), bt Hogarth, 77 gns; Christie's 13 June 1851 (49), 115 gns bought in; Elhanan Bicknell, Dulwich; his deceased sale, Christie's 25 April 1863 (74); bt Rutley, 100 guineas; E.A. Leatham, Miserden Hall, 1898; thence by descent to Major Leatham, Church Hill, Church Lane, Worpledon, Surrey; Christie's 20 June 1975 (90); sold for 500 guineas; Derek Johns, London; purchased by National Museum of Western Art, 1998
Signed and dated on the masonry, lower right: RW [monogram, the R reversed] | ROMA | 1754
In terms of iconography, this painting and its companion piece P66 are more complex and ambitious than any other of the landscapes Wilson is known to have produced while abroad.
P66 Landscape Capriccio on the Via Aemilia, with the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli and the Broken Bridge at Narni, Private Collection, New York
Wright described the composition in his own collection as having 'an upright dignified senatorial figure, which forms the centre of the beautiful pyramidal group in this picture' and refers to a 'majestic ruin on the right' and to a 'piping shepherdess' and a 'distant waterfall'. The picture, he says, was nearly five feet long and was inscribed in large characters in one corner: R.W. Roma, 1764 [sic].
Wright 1824, pp. 68 & 92; Waagen 1854, vol. 2, p. 353, Letter XXI, Mr Bicknell's Collection; 'Time did not permit of my taking notes of all the valuable works of art in this collection, among which I may mention a picture by Wilson - "The Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii"'; WGC, p. 204, pl. 82b as a conflation of recorded versions 3 & 4; Solkin 1982, pp. 41-3 and pp.188-189; New Acquisitions. Annual Bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art, no. 33, April 1998 - March 1999, 2000, Kofuku, Akira (also New Acquisitions, pp.19-20 and List of New Acquisitions, p.44, col. repr.); C. Powell, 'A Neglected Turner Patron: Thomas Wright of Upton (1773-1845)', Turner Society News, no. 121, Spring 2014, p. 22
The picture is not mentioned in Brettingham's will (2 December 1802) so if the reference to Mrs Montagu is correct he must have parted with it earlier. Wright seems to have brought it from Woodburn, who had obtained it either from Brettingham himself or 'Mr Brickdale'.