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Lake Avernus - I (View in Italy, Lake Avernus)
Courtesy of the President and Fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Lake Avernus - I (View in Italy, Lake Avernus)
Undated
Oil on canvas
39.4 x 52.7 cm
15 1/2 x 20 3/4 in.
P0804
P122E
A view across the lake towards a large ruined building with hills and mountains beyond. In the foreground, on the left, stand some trees. In the centre, there are three figures, two men, one seated on a log and one woman, or perhaps a monk, gesticulating. To the right are an open ancient sarcophagus, woodland and a hill topped by ancient buildings. Behind the group of figures a man bends down to his boat on the lake and further out another boat is visible.
Col. M.H. Grant; bt by Lt Col. R.H.R. Brocklebank, Stratford-upon-Avon, May 1935; bequeathed to Magdalen College 1965
Unsigned; no inscription
Tree painted over a reserve; horizon line drawn down as normal. The drawing of the building on top of the cliff is visible and not exactly filled in. The skyline/tree junction to the right is normal, as are the clouds and figures.
Lake Avernus lies on the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy, about a mile from Cumae. Filling the crater of an extinct volcano, mephitic vapours rise from its waters, precluding life on its banks, because of which it was believed to be the entrance to the Underworld by the Ancients. Thus in Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneas sacrifices to the gods in the shadow of the forest surrounding Lake Avernus and then follows the Cumaean Sibyl into her cave and down into the Underworld.
E16 James Roberts after Wilson, A View in Italy, The British Museum
E16A James Roberts after Wilson, Lake Avernus (A View in Italy), National Museum Wales, Cardiff
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The exact location is not certain but has been identified as including the 'Temple of Apollo' and the scene is based on views in the Phlegraean Fields, rearranged with Wilsonian licence. The elements are Lake Avernus, Lake Lucrino (middle distance), the Bay of Baia (distance). The mountain is Monte Gauro.
Sotheby's Reference No.: 791
WGC, p. 195, pl. 69a (version 5); Lt Col. H. Brocklebank, A Turn or Two I'll Walk to Still my beating Mind: Commentary on a Private Collection, London 1955, pp. 39-44
Discoloured varnish; normal craquelure. Framed in an eighteenth-century rococo Chippendale carved wood gilt frame
30/11/2021