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Lake Avernus and the Island of Capri
Tate, London 2014
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Lake Avernus and the Island of Capri
c.1760 (undated)
Oil on canvas
47 x 72.4 cm
18 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.
N00304
P93A
The view is taken from a classic vantage point near Pozzuoli, looking south across Lake Avernus and the narrow isthmus dividing it from the Bay of Baiae to the open sea and the island of Capri beyond.
Bangor 1925 (64); Machynlleth 1937 (6); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (90); London, Accademia Italiana delle Arti 27 October - 27 November 1990, In the Shadow of Vesuvius, Views of Naples from Baroque to Romanticism (60, repr.); London 1993 (75, repr.); London 1996-97 (100)
Sir John Pringle sale, Christie's 20 April 1843 (49), bt Norton; probably acquired through the dealer Norton by Robert Vernon; presented by him to the National Gallery 1847; transferred to Tate 1955
Lake Avernus, to the west on Naples, near Pozzuoli, lies in the volcanic region of the Phlegraean ('Burning') Fields. In classical mythology this was the site of the Underworld or 'Hades'. The entrance to Hades was said to lie in a nearby grotto, inhabited by the prophetess known as the Cumaean Sibyl. In Virgil's epic poem, The Aeneid, the Sibyl helps Aeneas, the Trojan prince, to enter Hades. There his father's ghost foretells his destiny as the founder of the Roman nation. Such associations made Lake Avernus a major attraction for landscape artists and travellers on the Grand Tour. The semi-ruined Temple of Apollo on the eastern shore of the lake to the left, was believed in Wilson's day to have been dedicated to Juno or Proserpina. On the south bank is the cavern of the Cumaean Sibyl.
D257 Lake Avernus, Monte Nuovo, the Island of Capri and Part of Baiae, The British Museum
E85 Joseph Clayton Bentley after Wilson, Lake Avernus, The British Museum
E85A Joseph Clayton Bentley after Wilson, Lake Avernus, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
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[1] J.M.W. Turner, Aeneas and the Sibyl, Lake Avernus, c. 1798, Tate, London (N00463)
[2] Giovanni Battista Lusieri, View of Lake Averno, watercolour, 1786, Christie's New York, 29 January 2015 (112)
D257 or another versioin of it served as the basis for this painting. Robin Hamlyn noted that the association of the area with Apollo, to whom, on first landing in Italy, Aeneas vowed to build a temple, was reinforced by Wilson's showing the sun setting behind the temple; also that in the distance, beyond the Lucrine Lake, the presence of vessels pulled up on the shore almost seems a conscious evocation of the moment when Aeneas's fleet landed.
304
WGC, pp.82, 195, pl. 72a; Hamlyn 1993, pp.65-6; Solkin 1982, pp. 203-204
Between 1752 and 1756 Wilson visited the area two or three times, working mainly out of doors at the Bay of Pozzuoli and at Lakes Agnano, Avernus and Baiae.
Dimensions framed: 77 x 101.5 cm
12/12/2018