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View of Lago d'Agnano, the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius in the Distance (Lago d'Agnano - I)
Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
View of Lago d'Agnano, the Bay of Naples and Vesuvius in the Distance (Lago d'Agnano - I)
c.1753 (undated)
Oil on canvas
43.5 x 56.1 cm
17 1/8 x 22 1/16 in.
Lago d'Agnano, formerly situated eight kilometres west of Naples, is seen from the west, looking southeast across the lake and crater, past Naples towards Mount Vesuvius, smoking in the distance to the left. The peninsula of Sorrento is seen in the centre and the island of Capri on the right. On the extreme left are the peaks of Vesuvius and possibly Somma, with smoke rising from the former. A small boat plies the lake behind the figures.
Birmingham 1948-49 (47); London 1949 (46)
Chambers Hall Gift, 1855
Unsigned; no inscription
[1] Upper stretcher left, white chalk: 46
[2] Vertical stretcher near top, black ink: Lago / di / Agnano / with the Promontory ] of Minerva and / Island of Capri / in the distance
[3] Canvas left side, white chalk: 93
[4] Canvas chalk: No 93
[1] Verso upper stretfher centre, black ink: R. Wilson.
[2] Verso lower stretcher, l.l.c.: [printed:] From THE DEPARTMENT OF FINE ART, [/] ASHMOLEAN MUSEUM, OXFORD [/] [black ink:] 47 [inverted] [/] [illegible as covered, inverted]
[3] Verso lower frame centre, red crayon: 46. The Lake of Agnano
The waterfilled volcanic crater near Naples was a popular resort in ancient times on account of its hot, sulphurous springs but was drained in the 1870s in order to limit the spread of mosquito-borne malaria. It had been a major attraction for 18th century Grand Tourists.
D177 The Lago di Agnano, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
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Pendant: P58 The Baths of Ischia, near Naples, Tate, London
Corresponds closely with a drawing made during a visit in 1752 or later (D177) which also served as the basis for other other compositions, of which the best version is P47A Lago d'Agnano with Vesuvius in the Distance , Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven. During his time in Italy, Wilson made several expeditions to Naples and its environs, first in 1752, then in the spring of 1753 and again in 1756.
Grant 1926-47, p. 61; Bury 1947, p. 68; Waterhouse 1953, p. 175, pl. 140A; WGC, pp. 92, 190-91, pl. 63a; The Ashmolean Museum, Complete Catalogue of Paintings, Oxford 2004, p. 245 repr.
It was landscapes such as this, partially based on the landscapes of Claude Lorrain but more generalised in atmosphere and representing actual views, that largely formed the idea of Italian landscape current in England during the second half of the 18th century. They were eagerly copied and emulated after Wilson's death.
Restored by Revitt in 1867. There are vertical scoring marks on both sides of the picture and it has slipped slightly in the frame at upper right.