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Syon House from Richmond Gardens - I
Private Collection England / Photograph by Matthew Hollow
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Syon House from Richmond Gardens - I
Early 1760s
Oil on canvas
73.6 x 105.6 cm sight size framed
28 15/16 x 41 9/16 in. sight size framed
Private Collection, England
Syon House appears on the right, seen from Richmond or Kew Gardens across the River Thames. The whole scene is bathed in a serene Claudean afternoon light. Under the trees in the right hand corner, an artist is drawing on white paper while an elegant man stands nearby. To their right is a gardener seated on his wheelbarrow, his blue coat hanging over a roller. Behind him the mast of a boat is visible, and further along the bank a group of figures strain at its towing-rope. On the left, figures promenade or sit on the ground. Birds fly distantly overhead.
RA 1872 (58 - lent Cavendish-Bentinck); Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, 1949; London, Somerset House 1977, London and the Thames: Paintings of Three Centuries (33)
George Augustus Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck (1821-1891), 3 Grafton Street, London W.1 and Brownsea Island; Christie's 8 July 1891 (541) bt Vokins; Mrs Arthur James, 3 Grafton Street, London W.1 and Coton House, Rugby; Christie's 15 October 1948 (134 - A View of Sion House, Brentford, from the River at Kew); with Thomas Agnew & Sons, London; with Arthur Tooth & Sons, London; bt Kenneth Lindsey c.1951; thence by descent
The figures have a rococo, Canalettesque appearance and are broadly painted, as is the foliage of the overhanging lighter tree at the right.
Syon House, situated on the banks of the Thames near Brentford, had been in the possession of the Percy family since 1604. The Earl of Northumberland (created duke in October 1766) embarked on a scheme of fitting up the apartments in the grandest classical manner in 1762. This refurbishment, not fully realised, took seven years during which time the park surrounding the house was refashioned by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Robert Adam's designs for the remodelling of the interior were published as vol. 1 of his Works in Architecture in 1773. However, there is no evidence of any ducal patronage of Wilson and this scene was probably intended as generic rather than as the portrait of a private estate.
D347 View of a Country House and Lake, The Courtauld Gallery, London
E72/13 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Sion Park and House on Thames from Richmond Gardens, The British Museum (1854,0708.70) and other impressions
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[1] George Lambert View of Copped Hall in Essex, from the Park, 1746, Tate, London
[2] Antonio Canaletto, Syon House, 1749, Northumberland Collection
[3] Thomas Hastings, One of the Great Ponds between Hampstead and Highgate, London, looking towards the Surrey Hills, 1831, Bank of England, London (1141)
Wilson produced a number of views of country houses following his return to England from Italy in 1757. The extent to which Syon House is diminished in comparison with the landscape as a whole demonstrates Wilson's compositional development of the formulae of predecessors such as George Lambert.
WGC, pp.184-85, pl. 54a (version 2); J. Harris, The Artist and the Country House, 1979, p. 272. fig. 294
Framed in a nineteenth-century composition Maratta frame. Constable recorded it as 'rubbed and perhaps unfinished' though neither was obvious in 2014.
Kate Lowry has noted: Original support simple weave, medium weight, linen canvas. Paste lined onto similar weight linen canvas by A.R. Burt who inscribed the lining reverse: 'Cleaned, lined and repaired by AR Burt Chester 1837'. Original turnovers removed at the time of relining. Four-member stretcher without keys probably dates from relining. The vection cracks run along the inside edges of the present stretcher bars except at the top edge where the distance between the top of the stretcher bar and the crack is 25 mm narrower. This suggests that the size of the original canvas has been reduced slightly along the top when relined. Dark grey ground, probably commercially prepared. The half tones of the flesh are the exposed grey of the ground. The painting has recently been cleaned and under UV light residues of old varnish are visible around margins.