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River Scene with Bathers, Cattle and Ruin (Landscape with Bathers)
Leicester Museum & Art Gallery, Leicestershire, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
River Scene with Bathers, Cattle and Ruin (Landscape with Bathers)
Mid-1760s (undated)
Oil on canvas
61 x 73.7 cm
24 x 29 in.
P116C
Before a calm wide river dominated by a domed ancient ruin three bathers are embarking on or returning from a swim while a cow and sheep graze nearby. On the right bank the ruin, a tower and other buildings are set among woods on the cliffs. Beyond in the left distance are a hill-town and mountains. The sky and clouds are suffused with the golden rays of the sun.
Purchased 1937 from C. Marshall Spink, London
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J.M.W. Turner, watercolour (T.B. XXXIII-I, Tate, London)
W.G. Constable noted that this painting is similar in design to the Tate version (P116B), but with sharper contrasts of light and shade. The size is also similar. He regarded it as 'probably by Wilson but of hasty replica quality' - a fair assessment.
WGC, p. 213, pl. 99b version 3
Kate Lowry has noted: Simple weave medium weight linen canvas lined onto a similar weight unbleached linen with glue-paste adhesive. Original turnovers removed at time of lining but remains of pale beige ground beyond the paint layer visible at top edge suggest a commercially-prepared priming. Four-member oak stretcher dates from lining. Handmade tacks in original positions through lining turnover suggest the lining was carried out in late 19th century. Lining is in fair condition with slight detachment of original from lining and split in lining turnover at lower left corner. Flattening of impasto due to pressure applied in lining has increased the visibility of earlier pentimenti; these are at left edge above the tree which was first painted larger by the artist and then partly covered by sky, and some foliage in the right hand group of trees where the artist has added additional foliage and the texture of the sky shows through. Under UV light residue of old varnish is visible especially over the trees at the right and over foreground. The museum conservation record notes surface cleaning in 1986 with an enzyme solution. The lake appears to have been overpainted at an early stage in its history around the bathers' figures. There are minor retouches at the right edge and two small retouches in the upper left sky. The general impression in normal light is of a clean painting with no discoloured varnish layer.
01/09/2021