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A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - I)
Petworth House, National Trust
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - I)
After 1764 (undated)
Oil on canvas
90.2 x 125 cm
35 1/2 x 49 1/4 in
PET.P.113
P96
An Italianate rural landscape, with a high foreground overlooking a wide river with two trees and a fallen trunk to the left and two boys fishing with a seated girl and her baby to the right. In the middle distance is a broad stretch of water with a rocky cliff in the background to the right, surmounted by a castle. There is a shallow bank to the left, with hazy plains and mountains in the distance. This imaginative scene is framed on the left by graceful tree trunks, which punctuate the sky. The delicate light, conveyed through soft colouring, is reflected in the river and enhances the sense of space. Two small figures are shown in silhouette on the slope below. There is a square tower in the trees on the far bank and beyond that, a river in a plain.
BI 1814 (104/107 - A landscape, with figures fishing, lent by Lord Egremont)
A bill made out by 'Wm Dormer' to the 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837) for five paintings in the sum of £2609 and dated 15 November 1802 included a 'Landscape by Wilson', which may be this work; accepted by HM Treasury in 1956 in lieu of death duties from John Wyndham, 6th Lord Leconfield and 1st Earl of Egremont (1920-1972); accepted by the National Trust on loan from HM Treasury, 21 February 1957, with formal transfer of ownership 20 September 1990
Signed on the rock in the right foreground: RW [monogram]
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Wilson spent much of the 1750s in Italy and produced paintings of Italian scenes for the rest of his life. However, he also painted views of his native Wales and it is sometimes difficult to be sure, as with this painting, whether he meant to evoke the Arno, the Po, the Tiber or the Dee valley. The composition is similar to that found in many of his views, combining topographical detail, often studied in North Wales and Cheshire, with some artistic licence. There are many surviving versions of this picture - an archetypal 'good breeder'. Dated 1760-63 by Constable.
112, Phillips 1835; 166, Bolton List 1846/47; 113, Collins Baker 1920; 196, H.M. Treasury; 188, National Trust; 24, NT Guides, North Gallery 1973-90; 290, Courtauld Photographic List, 1979
Phillips Petworth 1835 (112); Chrippes Inventory 1837 (113); Waagen 1854, vol. 3, p. 38, Letter XXIII - 'Still water, with a rock and a castle, with several figures. This is one of his choicest pictures. The colouring is warm and clear, the execution careful'; Knox 1856, p. 13, no. 113 - Landscape, with Figures, North Gallery; Collins Baker 1920, p. 135, no. 113; WGC, pp. 89, 213, pl. 100a
Catalogued by Collins Baker as Landscape with Figures (Tabley Hall?), this is the same composition as the etching by Capt. Thomas Hastings after the version of the subject in a private collection, which is entitled View in Italy and is further described by Hastings in his introductory remarks (p.2) as View on the Arno. This may not be correct, but it is certainly not Tabley Hall, as suggested by Collins Baker.
Cleaned by John Brealey 1952. Large cracks in sky, retouched. State difficult to determine but restoration may be fairly heavy. Figures bad, especially the youth on the left. Much bitumen on lower left corner. Kate Lowry has noted: Simple weave linen canvas, glue relined. National Trust conservation record suggests extensive retouching to cracks in the sky and elsewhere, locations not specified.