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Lake Avernus - III
Courtesy of the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry KBE
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Lake Avernus - III
Oil on canvas
61 x 83.8 cm
24 x 33 in.
Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, Art Treasures from Country Houses, 1952 (35); Vienna, British Council, 1979; Kenwood 1980 (72)
Recorded as Landscape with Figures in the Picture Closet at Montagu House, Whitehall c.1800
Unsigned, no inscription
The figures seem early and substantial in style. The trees are flattish and differentiated in colour, with bubbly silhouettes, suggesting an early date and the influence of Gaspard Dughet. The clouds are delicately painted and understated.
[1] Stretcher, ink in 19th century hand: R. WIlson [/] Presented by Sir George Beaumont [/] July 1812 to J. Constable and [/] [?] sold at his sale
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Gaspard Dughet, Ideal Landscape, c.1658-1660, Glasgow Museums
Constable noted that the silhouetting of the forms and the treatment of the foliage indicated that this was an early version of the subject, perhaps painted in Italy. The arrangement of the hills and architecture are based on Gaspard Dughet's Ideal Landscape, Glasgow Museums.
226, erroneously recorded as 22b by WGC
Andrew Mackay, Catalogue of the Pictures in Montagu House belonging to the Dukes of Buccleuch, 1898, p. 68 (226); WGC, pp. 82, 195, pl. 70a
Note the small seated figure with their back to the spectator, silhouetted at the centre and shown drawing. The man in the foreground with red hair has a bent neck and the woman is in a madonna-like position, holding a baby protectively. Also note the larg escale of the rock at the right - 7 feet high.
In a carved and gilded frame. Prominent craquelure exacerbated by old relining but under UV the picture structure is sound but the work has been cleaned in the sky and at intervals around the foliage. White underpainting in the lower half and dark in the upper suggest that the canvas may have been inverted or has been reused. Alternatively the darker upper half could be the result of discoloured old varnish.

Kate Lowry has noted:
Original canvas is medium-weight simple weave. Canvas has been glue-lined and the original turnover edges are missing. The existing stretcher probably dates from the relining treatment The lining has caused complete flattening of any paint texture and is possibly responsible for the severe drying cracks which have formed throughout the painting. The original ground is pale in tone. There is a thick discoloured yellow varnish over all. Under UV the sky and edges of the foliage, together with the distant mountain and tower have been partially cleaned, whilst the dark foreground and foliage masses are covered with a thick layer of older varnish.