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Capucins at Gensano (The Terrace of the Capuchin Monastery at Genzano)
Rhode Island Museum of Art, School of Design, Providence
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Capucins at Gensano (The Terrace of the Capuchin Monastery at Genzano)
1754
Black and white chalks and stump on fadad wove blue paper
287 x 422 mm
11 15/16 x 16 5/8 in.
70.118.60
D313
The view is from the terrace of the Capuchin monastery near the hilltop town of Genzano about 20 kilometers south west of Rome. Monks are playing bowls on the terrace. In the middle distance is the Palazzo Sforza Cesarini with the southern end of Lake Nemi to its left and a view of Monte Circeo and the Mediterranean beyond. Next to the palazzo are the church and bell tower of Santa Maria della Cima.
London, Agnews, January 1958, Water-colours and Drawings (31); Sutton & Clements 1968, vol. 2, p. 28, fig. 27; London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (47)
Commissioned 1754 by William Legge 2nd Earl of Dartmouth; thence by descent to the 8th Earl of Dartmouth; Christie's London, 29 January 1954 (17); Agnews, London; anonymous gift to Rhode Island Museum of Art, 1970
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
[1] Inscribed: 57
[1] Signed in black chalk on coloured border, lower left corner: R. Wilson f. 1754.
[2] Inscribed in ink on cartellino: Capucins at | Gensano.
[3] Inscribed in black chalk on coloured border, lower right corner: No. 15
Genzano (Genzano di Roma since 1873) is one of the Castelli Romani. The Cesarini family gained control of it in 1564 and Livia Cesarini, last of the line, was the wife of Francesco II Sforza, after both of whom the palazzo depicted took its name. The volcanic Lake Nemi, surrounded by the wooded slopes of the Alban Hills, was spectacularly sited and much praised by ancient writers including Virgil and Ovid. It was also renowned for the sanctuary of the goddess Diana on its northern shore. Depicted on numerous occasions by Wilson, in the 17th century it had featured much in the paintings of his mentors, Claude Lorrain and Gaspard Dughet.
D280/6 Italian Sketchbook p. 7(r), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
E72/6 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, The Lake of Nemi, The British Museum
P72 Lake Nemi and Genzano from the Terrace of the Capuchin Monastery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. That painting varies from this drawing in viewpoint and in many details.
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in 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 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.
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, fig. 6, p. 345, no. 15; Ford 1951, p. 61, no. 64; WGC, p. 209, pl. 95b; Illustrated London News, 11 January 1958; 'Selection II - British Watercolours and Drawings', Bulletin of the Rhode Island School of Design, vol. 58, no. 6, 1972, no. 7, pl. 7; Apollo, June 1974, pl. 13; Solkin 1978, p. 406, pl. 22; Solkin 1982, pp. 170-171; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195; Richard Wilson and the British Arcadia: exh. cat. with introductory essay by Andrew Wilton and entries by Ann Guité New York 2010, under no. 6, unpaginated
This is one of 20 views of the Environs of Rome referred to by Thomas Jenkins in 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.