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Lake Avernus - II (Lake Avernus with Bridge and Tower)
Christie's Images Limited 2014
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782) and Studio
Lake Avernus - II (Lake Avernus with Bridge and Tower)
Oil on canvas
42.7 x 52.9 cm
16 3/4 x 20 7/8 in.
Private Collection, England
P123A
A view across the lake towards a lengthy bridge with buildings at its left end, a tower some way behind them and a river and mountains beyond. In the foreground, on the left, two umbrella pines frame the scene. In the centre are three figures, two men, one seated on a stone and one woman, or perhaps a monk, gesticulating. To the right are an open ancient sarcophagus, woodland and a hill. Behind the group of figures a man bends down to his boat on the lake and further out another boat is visible.
BI 1817 Pictures by Deceased Artists (22 - Small Landscape, lent by Thomas Stokes)
Thomas Stokes, Bath; Sarah Hill by 1853; Captain R. Langton-Douglas; Christie's London 8 May 1936 (139 - 35 gns to Smith); Anon sale, Phillips 13 December 1994 (40); Anon sale, Christie's 16 June 2000 (57)
Unsigned though it is just possible that a mark in the lower left corner was once a monogram or intended as one; no inscription
There is blue overpainting in the sky and in the spaces between the branches of the inner tree on the left. The edges of the clouds have been reinforced by a later hand. There is thin filmy white paint in the lower right foreground and streaks of it across the left background landscape. The three figures appear to have been overpainted in a chalky technique, the details to the lower right are coarsely defined and those on the tombstone are vague. However, the area of the undergrowth at the lower left has been painted over a reserve, revealing the ground. Much of the distant landscape is undifferentiated. The vertical outlining of the tree trunks to the left is is not very convincing but in the manner of Wilson.
[1] On lower horizontal stretcher in white chalk: 51 16 June 2000
[1] Yellow round label stuck to stretcher, upper left: 51
[2] Christie's label stuck to stretcher, upper left: 1/2 page | 6212 | 07016318
[3] Sale stencil in black ink, upper left: SP491
Lake Avernus, north west of Naples, located in the Phlegraean (burning) fields, was the most charming of the Phlegraean lakes and was depicted by various vedutisti. To the Grand Tourists and artists of the 18th century, the area was particularly rich in classical associations. Since ancient times the caves and volcano in the area had given rise to the belief that the entrance to Hades, the underworld, was located there. Virgil's Aeneid also related how Aeneas, landing near Avernus, asked the Cumaean Sybil to prophesy his future and was led by her into Hades to meet the ghost of his father, who foretold his destiny.
D382 Italian Landscape with Umbrella Pine in Foreground, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Leonora Gurley Memorial Collection
E16 James Roberts after Wilson, A View in Italy, 1765, The British Museum and other impressions
See 'Links' tab
[1] J.M.W. Turner, Wilson Sketchbook, 1796-97, pp. 100-101, Tate, London
[2] William Delamotte (1775-1863), Lake Avernus, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1961.36)
One of a number of 'good breeders' emanating from Wilson's visit(s) to Lake Avernus.
WGC, p. 103 under 'Stokes'
Wilson visited Lake Avernus in 1752 and again in the Spring of 1753 with his patron, William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. As a result, he painted two pictures of the area. He himself, his pupils and copyists replicated both subjects on many occasions.
Recently relined and revarnished. Some vertical losses in a line about 10 cm out from the left edge, probably reflecting the shape of an earlier frame. The present frame is nineteenth- or early twentieth-century, carved and re-used Rococesque.
10/12/2021