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River Scene with Bathers, Cattle and Ruin
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, on loan to Jesus College
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
River Scene with Bathers, Cattle and Ruin
1762 or 1768
Oil on canvas
31 x 50 cm
12 3/16 x 19 11/16 in.
Before a calm wide river dominated by a domed ancient ruin three bathers are embarking on or returning from a swim. Two groups fishing from boats behind the bathers are drawing in a drag net. The golden rosy back-lighting effects in the sky behind the hills and trees to the right are ethereal. On the right banks of the river are sheep and cattle.
Sir Chartres Biron (1863-1940), Chief Magistrate of the Metropolitan Police Courts; Sotheby's 19 June 1940 (83); bequeathed by E.H.W. Meyerstein (1889-1952), writer and scholar, 1953
Unsigned, no inscription
This painting is more freely painted than some of the other versions. Blobby dots, for example on the two sheep and cow in the middle right ground, suggest that the picture comes from earlier rather than later in Wilson's career.
The temple is based on that of Minerva Medica in Rome
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J.M.W. Turner, watercolour (T.B. XXXIII-I, Tate, London)
Taking into account size, technique and omission of details appearing in other versions, this is probably a preliminary study. Painted after Wilson's return to England, it presents an idealised vision of Italy, incorporating elements found in other works. However, the tower on the hilltop is clearly part of an English church in this version. A possible date scratched and obscured by black on the boulder in the right foreground reads 1762 or 1768.
Not in WGC
In a contemporary [?] carved and gilded frame. Hardboard backing board. Diagonal weave canvas. Pronounced craquelure overall. Two small paint losses top left edge about quarter of width along; one small paint loss upper right edge about a quarter of the height from top. Black flymarks [?] in sky upper centre.