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The Cock Tavern at Cheam
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Gift of Jeremiah J. Nolan. Photo: Ernest Mayer, Winnipeg Art Gallery
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Cock Tavern at Cheam
c.1745 (undated)
Oil on canvas
81.2 x 146.5 cm
32 x 57 11/16 in.
G-52-183
P15B
The view is probably south towards Banstead Downs, Surrey. Cheam Common opens out beyond it, while in the distance to the right the building is probably Cheam House.
Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts exhibitions 1942, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bath, Oxford
Col. M.H. Grant; John Nicholson, New York; Jeremiah J. Nolan; WInnipeg Art Gallery
Unsigned; no inscription
The Cock Tavern was probably the Cock Inn, a well-known country coaching inn located in Sutton, the neighbouring parish to Cheam. It stood beside an unexceptional area of common land about 12 miles south-west of central London.
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As Solkin has noted, this was apparently the most popular of Wilson's early landscapes, to judge by the fact that it survives in four versions. The composition and colour are close to Esias van de Velde's Wooded River Landscape (Sotheby's 14 April 2011 (108)). Certainly the work shows Wilson at his most Netherlandish and was probably intended for a new group of middle-class buyers whose taste in landscape tended more towards Dutch-style views than to the grandiose pastorals of the classical tradition. Solkin has also extensively discussed the social and economic implications inherent in the contrast between the tumbledown inn with its decaying picket fence and resting peasants on the left and the newly-built house with its neat enclosure and strolling bourgeoisie opposite.
WGC, pp. 76, 171, pl. 30c; Waites 2012, pp. 55-56