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Ponte Nomentano
Tate, London 2014
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Ponte Nomentano
Dated 1754
Graphite, black and white chalk and stump on grey laid paper
287 x 422 mm
11 5/16 x 16 5/8 in.
T03026
D318
This is a close-up view of the bridge seen in the distance of D316 The Via Nomentana , Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven. Jonathan Yarker reports that, like the bridge itself, the house on the right still survives.
Birmingham 1948-49 (89); London 1949 (88); Rome 1959 (669); London, Cardiff and New Haven 1982-83 (49); Tercentenary 2014 (68)
Commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in Rome in 1753; by descent until lost; rediscovered by Lady Dartmouth, Patshull House, Wolverhampton 1948; 8th Earl of Dartmouth; Christie's 29 January 1954 (22); bt Thomas Agnew & Sons, London; purchased by Tate Gallery, London, 1980
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
Inscribed: 32
[1] Signed in black ink on coloured border, lower left corner: R. Wilson f. 1754.
[2] Inscribed on cartellino in black ink , lower centre: Ponte | Nomentano [the last 'o' changed from an 'a']
[3] Inscribed in graphite on coloured border, lower right corner: No. 20
The Ponte Nomentano is three miles north east of Rome and carries the Via Nomentana across the River Aniene, or Anio, as it did in Wilson's day.
D316 The Via Nomentana, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) iin 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 and artists 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. As Robin Simon has noted, in making such records of specific locations around Rome, Wilson swiftly developed one of his most important skills - the creation of a coherent and evocative composition in front of an accurately recorded scene. His ability to shape an open view through balance and variation, without benefit of framing devices such as trees, would later find a logical application in such highly original works as D360 A View of Hounslow Heath, London, Private Collection, UK, c/o Lowell Libson Ltd.
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1951, p. 61, no. 62; The Tate Gallery Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1978-90 , London, 1981, pp. 48-50; Solkin 1982, pp. 171-172; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 255
The Ponte Nomentana, Rome
This is one of 20 views of the environs of Rome referred to by Thomas Jenkins 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.
Laid down on fawn paper with original lilac border