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View of Castel Gandolfo and Lake Albano
Christie's Images Limited 2014
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
View of Castel Gandolfo and Lake Albano
c.1754-56 (undated)
Oil on canvas
75 x 99 cm
29 1/2 x 39 in.
Private Collection, England
P62
Lake Albano appears in the middle distance with the banks rising steeply from it. In the foreground to right and left are groups of trees, between which sit a Madonna-like woman with a child, and a man drawing or reading. Under the foliage of the inner right-hand tree a church is visible. Disappearing over the edge of a hill, a man on a white pony leads a donkey by its halter. Across the lake a path slants down the face of the cliff, which is surmounted by the town of Castelgandolfo.
Rome 1959 (672)
J. Tayleur, Buntingsdale Hall, Market Drayton; Frederick Seymour Clarke, 40 Portman Square, London W.1; sold Christie's, 10 February 1933 (39 - A River Scene ); bt Graves (£231); with Leggatt, London; 1950, Gooden & Fox, London; Dr Campbell Golding, London; by descent; Christie's, 25 November 2003 (61)
Signed on milestone, centre: RW [monogram, the reversed]
Inscribed [indistinctly] on stone lower left
Lake Albano, 18 miles south-east of Rome, was celebrated in Wilson's day for its appearance in Virgil's Aeneid. Castelgandolfo was and remains the summer residence of the popes. It was built for Urban VIII (1623-44) to the designs of Carlo Maderna. The site of the ancient town, Alba Longa, is nearby and Pompey and Domitian, among other celebrated ancient Romans, built villas on the shore of the lake.
D163 Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, Victoria & Albert Museum
D312 Castel Gandolfo; A View of the Town from across the north end of Lake Albano, with a Shepherd in the Foreground, Private Collection
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[1] Claude Lorrain, Pastoral Landscape with Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, oil on copper, 1639, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD.950-1963)
[2] Jonathan Skelton, Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, watercolour, 1758, Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester
[3] Jacob More (1740-1793), Lake Albano with Castelgandolfo, The Fleming Collection, London
[4] Joseph Wright of Derby, Albano, 1790, National Museum Wales, Cardiff (NMW A 109)
[5] J.-B.-C. Corot, Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, oil on paper, 1826-28, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Lake and town are seen from the north-east, replicating the viewpoint in Pastoral Landscape with Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo by Claude Lorrain, which David Solkin has noted was then in the Barberini collection in Rome. The inscription on the stone is no longer decipherable but by analogy with P62A probably read, 'Qui Potentiora Egit, Qui Maiora Fecit' ['who did mightier deeds who made greater works']. Wilson probably intended it to provide a counterpoint to the bucolic character of the scene in his own day, as conveyed through the peasant figures, and perhaps as a comment on the moral authority of the Roman Empire, as compared with that of the eighteenth-century papacy. His first treatment of the subject seems to have been a drawing on the far shore (D163), which in 1754 he worked up into a presentation drawing for Lord Dartmouth (D312), whose design his painted versions follow.
WGC, p. 191, pl. 64b (version 1)
Confusingly W.G. Constable stated that 'the woman, foreground, has a child on each side, and embraces the one on her left; the church, seen below the tree right, omitted. The figures were at one time over-painted to represent the Virgin and Child.'
20/07/2021