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River, Road and Village
Private Collection, Scotland
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
River, Road and Village
c.1750 (undated)
Oil on canvas
93 x 127.7 cm
36 5/8 x 50 1/4 in.
Private Collection, Scotland
284
P34
Edinburgh Charlotte Square 1950 (92); Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, 1957 (18); Manchester 1957 (196)
Presumably bought in the 19th century
Painted over a dark grey ground. The horizon joins the hills with an unusual flatness but there are good areas of impasto.The figures are discrepant in scale. Other figures and a possibly a boat have been painted out in the foreground.
From the evidence of a photograph, Constable suggested that this might be one of the few landscapes that Wilson painted before he went to Italy, but believed that the costume indicated a later date of perhaps 1750-55. The locality has not been identified but the general character and details of the buildings are neither Welsh nor English, rather perhaps French. It may therefore be a reminiscence of Wilson's journey to Italy in 1750, perhaps a scene on the Loire, the Rhone or the Meuse. The most unusual part of the composition is the enclosed ecclesiastical building in the left background, suggesting perhaps a cemetery and chapel. The building itself, however, looks more English than French.
This painting is unique in Wilson's oeuvre in both its composition and the highly-keyed colour. Also remarkable are the large expanse of sky and the uncharacteristically particularised tones of green. Ellis Waterhouse opined, 'the air of Italy is so strong and the effect of the design (which unexpectedly echoes Canaletto) so powerful, that we have to look hard to distinguish the British figures and hollyhocks and the British trees.'
Gosford cat. no. 284
Country Life, 22 September 1950; M. Davies, Burlington Magazine, November 1950, p. 319, fig. 17; Waterhouse 1953, p. 176, pl. 145; WGC, pp. 77 & 182, pl. 48a
Kate Lowry has noted: Simple weave linen support, glue lined. Pine stretcher not original, square mortice joints with two vertical and one horizontal cross-bar. Stretcher probably dates from lining. Clare Meredith's conservation report records white particles in ground erupting through paint surface and these are visible especially in the tree foliage at left. However the ground or underpaint layer appears to be a dark grey colour throughout the painting, visible through cracks in sky and where left unpainted in the foreground. The tree foliage is a fairly simple green throughout with more or less white added; quite different from Wilson's usual mixed greens and browns. There are no signs of reserves left for foliage against the sky. No vection cracks and no drying cracks present. Its high tone and lumpy ground suggest it could be an early work by Wilson, but more research is needed to discover what the view represents.
26/06/2019