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The Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii
Private Collection
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Tomb of the Horatii and Curiatii
Undated
Oil on canvas
49.7 x 74.3 cm
19 3/8 x 29 1/4 in.
The Collection of Mr Darryl Saunders, New Orleans
P61B
The tomb is on the Via Appia Nuova, just beyond Albano on the way to Ariccia. Only two of its towers now survive. Here it is shown standing on sandy ground with the road running past to the left. A coach and horses pass along it in a cloud of dust and in the distance four figures disappear into woodland. In front of the tomb itself two women converse - one in peasant dress stands with a baby in her arms, the other, more elegantly attired in a straw hat, sits on the ground. A goatherd with his dog, eleven goats and a kid cross the foreground from the left and there are trees behind the tomb and in the background.
Century of British Art, Grosvenor Gallery London, 1888 (168)
General Sir Henry P. de Bathe, Baronet, Wood End, near Chichester; Private Collection, England; G.E. Sworder & Sons, Cambridge Road, Stansted Mountfichet Essex CM24 8GE, 20 September 2011 (368); Private Collection, England; sold December 2014; bt present owner; Lyon & Turnbull Ltd, 33, Broughton Place, Edinburgh EH1 3RR, 14 May 2015 (19); bt present owner
Inscribed on rock lower centre: 'RW' [the R reversed]
A light brown underpaint is visible through the foreground landscape and a lighter beneath the sky. Pentimenti and unresolved areas appear round the silhouettes of the two left-hand towers of the tomb.
Marks on stretcher:
[1] Upper member, faintly inscribed in ink, left: '10015'
[2] Scratched into centre of upper member, pencil: 13
[3] Inscribed in pencil: '29 ½ x 20'
[1] Left end of lower member of stretcher printed label: 88 East Gallery / RICHARD WILSON, R.A. / Born 1714; died 1782 / 168 TOMB OF THE HORATII AND CURIATII. / Lent by General Sir H.P. de Bathe, Bart. / This is probably one of the first pictures sent by Wilson to the first to the first exhibition in England. See / "A View of between Dolgelly and Barmouth," No. 94, lent by R. Rankin, Esq., and No. 128 / 20 x 29 inches.
[2] Centre left of lower member of stretcher, black ink, inverted: 2
[3] Centre of lower member of stretcher, printed torn label: SIR HENRY DE BATHE / WOODEND
The tomb near Albano is in the Etruscan manner, a massive cube originally surmounted by five obtuse cones of which two are still standing.
See 'Links' tab
Cf WGC, pp. 203-4, pl. 82b (unrecorded version)
The tomb provided the model for at least two 18th century garden structures in Britain
Relined. Evidence of overpainting to the edges of the picture (upper right, lower left, lower right). Cracking and crazing throughout. Before cleaning a thick old varnish had blanched, leading to an unfocused effect over the whole picture. The former frame was said to be 18th century carved giltwood. Cleaned by Martin Wyld in October 2011. Kate Lowry has noted: The original canvas support is a medium weight, simple weave linen. Original turnover edges removed at time of lining. Relined onto similar weight linen canvas with animal glue adhesive. Reverse of lining canvas a reddish ochre colour. Adhesion between canvases is good. Attached to stretcher with tacks through lining canvas turnovers. Stretcher dates from relining treatment. It has four members, 15mm thick, slightly bevelled along inside edges. Width of upper and left hand members: 61mm; width of lower and right hand members: 64mm. Stretcher has square mortice joints with provision for keying out. All keys present. Tension good.
Ground appears to be warm white or palest pink. Edges of ground are visible down the left hand edge where a later fill is missing. Typical of Wilson are the painting of the clouds down to and around the turrets of the tomb and around the trees in the middle ground. The figures appear to be typical of Wilson. Under UV some minor retouches over the varnish are visible in the right hand area of the sky and down the left hand edge where filled. Small retouches visible throughout the dark greens in right hand trees, in dark green beyond the middle ground figures and in the darks below the foliage of the left hand trees. The outline of the belly and head of the dog and horns of goats in centre foreground are also retouched. The monogram has not been retouched. The painting appears to be recently restored and has a clear varnish coating. Its condition is good.