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A View of Hounslow Heath, London
Private Collection UK c/o Lowell Libson Ltd
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
A View of Hounslow Heath, London
c.1765 (undated)
Pencil, black and white chalk and stump on pinkish buff paper laid down on coarse canvas
254 x 381 mm
10 x 15 1/4 in.
D360
The site is the watermeadows near Whitton Place, an estate in a part of Hounslow Heath southwest of London, beside the River Crane. The estate was formerly a residence of Archibald, 3rd Duke of Argyll (1682-1761) but by 1765 was owned by Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), a friend and patron of Wilson.
Tercentenary 2014 (141)
Given by the artist to to Francis Milner Newton (1720-1794) first Secretary of the Royal Academy, or perhaps bought by him; by descent to Francis Wheat Newton; possibly with Agnew's, London 1913 (not in stock book); possibly with Knoedler's, New York by 1914; Mrs Harry C. Cushing IV, New York; Martin Gruss, New York; Christie's London, 5 July 2011 (119); private collection UK.
Unsigned; no inscription
[1] Pencil, lower left: Rousuck [?] 7625
[2] Pencil lower centre: Gainsborough
[3] Pencil lower right: 6
The view shows part of the watermeadows beside the River Crane near Whitton Place, an estate on Hounslow Heath acquired in 1765 by Wilson's friend, the architect Sir William Chambers.
E72/1 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, On Hounslow Heath, The British Museum
E72/1A Thomas Hastings after Wilson, On Hounslow Heath, The British Museum
E72/1B Thomas Hastings after Wilson, On Hounslow Heath, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
P131 On Hounslow Heath, Tate, London
P131A On Hounslow Heath,Tate, London
P131B On Hounslow Heath, Collection of Richard L. Feigen & Co
It has been noted that this drawing was thought for many years to be by Gainsborough, a featureless topographical view being an unusual choice for Wilson, who generally followed the tradition of academic Italian landscapes. David Solkin has characterised the drawing as ' the earliest in which Wilson depicted such an undignified site not much more than a piece of common nature, treated in the unpretentious manner of seventeenth-century Dutch art.' Such a subject would appeal to the urban middle-class market, as embodied in two if not all three of the known purchasers of the related paintings, which included one exhibited at the RA in 1770 (203).
Hastings 1825, p. 9; Hayes 1964, pp. 337-39, fig. 35; Solkin 1982, pp. 103-5, 220; Waites 2012, pp. 56-57; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 314-15
Thomas Hastings, who etched P131 stated that 'Paul Sandby was with Richard Wilson at the time the Sketch was made for the subject of HOUNSLOW HEATH.' Whether that reference is to the present drawing is unclear but the artist Ozias Humphrey (1742-1810) noted in a memorandum of 12 March 1773 that 'Mr Wilson says the best & most expedient Mode of drawing from Nature is w.th black chalk and stump on brown paper touch'd up w.th white.' (British Museum, Add MSS 22940, p. 111).
Jane McAusland of Christie's noted: Wilson used a sheet of pink/buff laid paper to support this drawing. It is fully adhered to a loose weave canvas and hinged into an overmount at the top. There is a rectangle of light brown staining in the sheet, otherwise the condition is good. A crease on the left is natural to the sheet, as are other small imperfections. The medium is fresh and in good condition.