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Torre delle Grotte, near Naples
Tate, London 2014
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Torre delle Grotte, near Naples
c.1752 (undated)
Graphite, black chalk, stump and white highlights on buff-grey laid paper mounted on old faun card
279 x 381 mm
10 15/16 x 15 in.
T09300
D207
A view across a bay of caves cut into a cliff-face, with a square tower on the summit and a stone arch projecting into the sea on the left. This side of the water, men in a small barge can be seen in the left foreground and there are other sailing craft in the distance.
Tokyo, Institute of Art Research, Ueno, 10-24 October 1929, Loan Collection of English Water-Colour Drawings (1); Birmingham 1948-49 (43); London 1949 (52); Sheffield 1952 (76); Leicester 1953 (82); Tercentenary 2014 (117)
William Lock sale, Sotheby's 3 May 1821 (396); William Esdaile; his sale, Christie's 1838 (646); Paul Oppé; purchased as part of Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, 1996
Signed in black chalk lower left: R.W.f.
The lines of the laid paper are prominently visible
[1] Recto lower right corner, in ink: WE. (William Esdaile, Lugt 2617)
[1] Upper left. old pencil: From Mr Esdaile's Collection
[2] Lower left. old ink: 1821 WE Lock's sale No 102X P116
[3] Lower centre, old ink: Wilson
[1] Recto lower left in black ink: 102 X
[2] Recto black ink in Esdaile's hand lower centre.: Torre delle Grotte
It has recently been shown by Robin Simon and Martin Postle that the scene is of Torregaveta, a craggy outcrop on the Phlegraean peninsula to the east of Naples. Close to Baiae, Cumae and the volcanic lakes of Fusaro and Avernus, it had many classical associations. At the summit of the cliffs was the ruin of a villa fortress constructed by the Roman consul, Servilius Vatia (c.122-44 BC). The tower of the villa was still prominent in the 18th century but was damaged in the Second World War, by which time the rock face and the arches had also been much eroded.
E35 William Hodges after Wilson, Twelve Etchings of Views in Italy - Torre Delle Grotte near Naples, 1776, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven and other impressions
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P70 Torre delle Grotte near Naples, Private Collection, Yorkshire
P70A Torre delle Grotte near Naples, John Mitchell Fine Art Paintings
This is the finished drawing for the painting of the same title, of which several versions are known (see 'Related Paintings'). William Hodges's etching (E35) also derives from this drawing. Wilson was first in Naples and the vicinity as early as 1752 and probably made it at that time.
380
L. Binyon, Catalogue of English Water-colour Drawings, Tokyo 1929, p. 3, pl. I; Ford 1951, p. 57, no. 43; WGC, pp. 110, 199, pl. 78b; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 294-95
Some brown staining, e.g. top left area