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Syon House from Richmond Gardens - I
bpk | Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Munich
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Syon House from Richmond Gardens - I
Early 1760s (undated)
Oil on canvas
103.5 x 139 cm
40 3/4 x 54 11/16 in.
14559
P88
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 between him and a fashionable woman seated on the grass. To their right is a gardener resting near his wheelbarrow and roller. Beyond to the left, groups of figures promenade or sit on the ground while in the foreground a seated nurse amuses a child. Birds fly distantly overhead.
RA 1776 (327) - a version; probably R.A.O.M. 1890 (157); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (93)
Probably the Revd Benjamin Gibbons; John Gibbons; Christie's 26 May 1894 (71), bt Agnew for Sir Charles Tennant, Bart, The Glen, near Innerleithen, Peebleshire, Scotland, thence by descent; Lord Glenconner (1926-2010) in 1953; with Knoedler & Co, 15 Old Bond Street, London W.1 (#7320); Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd, 43 Old Bond Street, London W1X 4BA; acquired by the Neue Pinakothek 1978
Inscribed on wheelbarrow, lower right: W
A brownish pink ground underpins the rough colour scheme, visible in the tree range at the left, which is painted onto a reserve as is common with Wilson. There are pentimenti at the left edges of the foliage right and in the girl's back in the group of two at the left.
[1] Twice (upper left and upper right corners of canvas, the right at 90 degrees), black paint: 389
[1] Top of central vertical member of stretcher, a round label inverted, inscribed in black ink: 86 [|] (1)
[2] Bottom of left upright member of stretcher: printed museum label with typed inventory number, artist and title
[3] Centre of lower horizontal member of stretcher: printed Agnews label with no. 41293
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.
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] 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. He inherited the practice of showing a house and its setting as part of a larger landscape from George Lambert, who had pioneered it in the 1740s with such works as View of Copped Hall in Essex, from the Park, Tate, London . Here however Wilson has expressed the classical connotations of the area in pictorial terms by using a compositional formula plus a warm sunset colouring, which overtly recall the works of Claude Lorrain. One of the versions of this composition was later praised by William Hazlitt: 'We consider this landscape ... as one of the most striking proofs of Wilson's genius, as it conveys not only the image, but the feeling, of nature and excites a new interest unborrowed from the eye, like the fine glow of a summer's day.' (see Bibliography).
W. Hazlitt, Criticisms on Art, 1856, p. 186; C. Morland Agnew, Catalogue of the Pictures forming the Collection of Sir Charles Tennant, Bart, 1896, unpaginated; WGC, pp. 184-85 (probably Version 1 of pl. 54a); Solkin 1982, pp. 204-205; Neue Pinakothek, Katalog der Gemälde und Skulpturen, Munich-Cologne 2003, p. 428 (C. Heilmann); Das 19. Jahrhundert - Die Neue Pinakothek, eds. H.W. Rott and J. Kaak, Munich-Cologne 2003, pp. 44-45 (M. Hirsch); A. Aymonino, 'The Cult of Antiquity', Country Life, vol. 209, no. 4, 21 January 2015, pp. 38-47
One of the versions of this subject was singled out by Hazlitt for special praise: 'We consider this landscape ... as one of the most striking proofs of Wilson's genius, as it conveys not only the image, but the feeling, of nature and excites a new interest unborrowed from the eye, like the fine glow of a summer's day.' (Criticisms on Art, 1856, p. 186).
Relined. Mounted and glazed in a narrow neo-classical 19th-century museum-style frame. Conserved in 1978. The painted area measures 101.3 x 136.5 cm (39 7/8 x 53 3/4 in.). The stretcher seems to be 19th-century of solid manufacture, with four upright and three horizontal members, generously keyed at the angles. It was once backed in grey paper over a creamy paper covering, as indicated by remnants attached to the stretcher. The painted surface is in good condition and is laid onto a soft brown ground, with areas reserved for the trees. Drying cracks at the lower right and a few other areas have been infilled but no significant damage appeared under UV light.