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The Cock Tavern, Cheam Common
Crown Copyright: UK Government Art Collection
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Cock Tavern, Cheam Common
c.1745-47 (undated)
Oil on canvas
83.8 x 144.2 cm
33 x 56 3/4 in.
GAC 15029
P15A
The view is probably south towards Banstead Downs, Surrey. Cheam Common opens out beyond it, while in the distance to the right the building is probably Cheam House.
Agnew 1979; London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (9)
Col. M.H. Grant; Mr & Mrs Carr of Petersham; bt Ronald Lee and sold to Leggatt Brothers, London 1954; Anon sale, Christie's 18 June 1976 (112), bt Agnews; purchased May 1980 by H.M. Government
Unsigned; no inscription
The 'Cock Tavern' was probably the Cock Inn, a well-known country coaching inn located in Sutton, the neighbouring parish to Cheam. It stood beside an unexceptional area of common land about 12 miles south-west of central London.
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As Solkin has noted, this was apparently the most popular of Wilson's early landscapes, to judge by the fact that it survives in four versions. The composition and colour are close to Esias van de Velde's Wooded River Landscape (Sotheby's 14 April 2011 (108)). Certainly the work shows Wilson at his most Netherlandish and was probably intended for a new group of middle-class buyers whose taste in landscape tended more towards Dutch-style views than to the grandiose pastorals of the classical tradition. Solkin has also extensively discussed the social and economic implications inherent in the contrast between the tumbledown inn with its decaying picket fence and resting peasants on the left and the newly-built house with its neat enclosure and strolling bourgeoisie opposite.
WGC, p. 171 (unpublished version of pl. 30c); The Connoisseur, December 1954; Col. M.H. Grant, The Old English Landscape Painters, 1957, vol. 2, pl. 64; Solkin 1982, pp. 31-33, 150; Solkin 2015, pp. 118-19