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Landscape with Banditti round a Tent
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Landscape with Banditti round a Tent
1752
Oil on canvas
71.1 x 97.2 cm
28 x 38 1/4 in.
NMW A 68
P51
In a mountainous landscape a group of bandits have pitched their tent by a lake between two trees in the right foreground. Two men in the tent are playing cards while outside a man and a woman converse animatedly next to a seated man on the left and a man is seen cooking in a pot over a fire on the right. A dog is drinking in the right foreground.
BI, London 1853 (157 or 138); J.A. Tooth Galleries, London May 1951; Agnew's, London 1956, Loan Exhibition from the National Museum of Wales (49); Kenwood 1974 (146); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (62); Tercentenary 2014 (51)
Commissioned with P50 by James Russel for Ralph Howard (1727-1789; Viscount Wicklow from 1785); by descent to William Cecil James, 8th Earl of Wicklow, Shelton Abbey, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Ireland; Sotheby's London, 23 October 1950 (1575) as one of a Set of 4 Rocky Landscapes and Figures by 'Salveta Rose'; bt J.A. Tooth; P.& D. Colnaghi; bt by the National Museum of Wales, 1953
Unsigned; no inscription
Kate Lowry has noted: An X-radiograph shows that this painting was painted over an earlier study of a reclining nude after Titian, which Wilson may have painted during his stay in Venice. The presence of a red-brown ground also shows the influence of the North Italian School. These facts suggest that the picture may have been begun very soon after Wilson's arrival in Rome from Venice. Unlike P50, the canvas support has a very coarse weave.
D71 The Log Fire, Private Collection, England (RF73)
Pendant: P50 Landscape with Banditti: The Murder, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
This is one of a pair of landscapes painted by Wilson in Rome between January and November 1752 for Ralph Howard, later Viscount Wicklow. They were probably the first of a set of eight landscapes and character heads executed for him in Rome. The main influence, however, is still that of the Venetian painter, Francesco Zuccarelli, especially in the design but in some of the detail such as the figures and the rocks, a wilder more romantic note recalls Marco Ricci. As first noticed by Brinsley Ford, features including a tent, a rocky hill to the right and a drinking dog appear in Sebastiano and Marco Ricci's Moses striking the Rock in the Royal Collection. Prior to 1760 this belonged to Consul Smith in Venice, where Wilson could have seen it. The relaxed mood of the banditti, with their makeshift tent and cooking arrangements, is intended to contrast with the horror of the murder in the companion picture.
Old Accession Number: 53.132
Old Registration Number: 857
Ford May 1951, p. 162, fig. 16; Ford 1952, p. 307; WGC, pp. 29, 31, 70, 79, 110, 157-58, 162, pl. 12a; Cardiff 1961, pp. 10-11; Solkin 1982, pp. 179-80; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 255 under cat. 165; Ingamells 1997, p. 1008; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 242.
As David Solkin has noted, the series was begun before 13 January 1752 and finished before 14 November that year - the date of Wilson's account for this and other Wicklow pictures. The price was 20 sequins each (approximately £10). Although Wilson seems to have been paid 50 per cent in advance in Rome, he asked for the balance to be deposited with 'Mr Gavin Hambleton Portrait Painter' at an address near St James's Street, London. Gavin Hamilton is known to have been in London for a short period in 1752 and appears to have been entrusted to bring the payment back to Wilson in Rome. The painting was mentioned in an undated inventory (pre-1820) of the collection of the Earl of Wicklow and in an account dated 11 October 1820 from Dr George Meade for ' cleaning, lining and restoring'.
Kate Lowry has noted: Original canvas is simple weave linen with coarse grain, 6 warps x 9 wefts per sq. cm. Original turnover edges preserved. Uncut selvedge at top and bottom edges. Side edges rather frayed and torn. Lined onto a fine weave linen with a brown paper interleave using wax resin adhesive. This treatment dates from 1981, prior to which it was paste lined. Pine stretcher, probably dates from the earlier paste lining. Pale brown with red-brown coating over. It covers the entire canvas but not the turnovers, so was applied after canvas was stretched up. Pigments are very coarse ground and paint applied quite thickly. Paint cross-sections indicate extensive reworking and the X-ray reveals a previous composition of a reclining nude figure at 180 degrees to the present image. Drying cracks widespread in dark areas such as rocks at upper left and trees in middle ground at centre of composition. Strong mature cracks particularly noticeable in sky but also present elsewhere throughout the painting. Losses in sky at upper left corner filled and retouched. Several punctures to original canvas along inside edge of upper stretcher bar and two further punctures at lower right sky, all filled and retouched. Two large areas of retouching underlie the varnish centred on the rocks at left and right and there is also retouching centre bottom edge under varnish. Synthetic varnish coating applied after cleaning in 1981.