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Study of Figures for 'Ego fui in Arcadia'
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Study of Figures for 'Ego fui in Arcadia'
c.1755 (undated)
Black chalk with white gouache on medium, rough-textured, blue-grey laid paper mounted on thick, moderately-textured, cream laid paper
194 x 271 mm
7 5/8 x 10 11/16 in.
Two men in antique costume, the nearer carrying a long staff, stand in contemplation before a large inscribed stone fragment at the lower right
Birmingham 1948-9 (119 - Study for Cicero's Villa); London 1949 (118)
Archibald G.B. Russell (1879-1955); Pickles sale, Sotheby's 11 July 1928 (72), bt Maser (£1); Witt collectrion; Thomas Lowinsky; Mrs Thomas Lowinsky; acquired 1977
Inscribed in black chalk on stone fragment, lower right: 'EGO FVI IN | ARCADIA'
1) Recto, upper left. 'TEL' in circle: Thomas Lowinsky (Lugt 2420a)
2) Recto, lower left. crown above flower [?]
3) Verso 'RM' in hexagonal shape
The theme deals with mortality and the transience of human existence. It occurs in a number of seventeenth-century paintings, notably one by Guercino and two by Nicolas Poussin.
D53/39 Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 39
P69 Ego fui in Arcadia, Private Collection, England
[1] Guercino, Et in Arcadia Ego c.1618-22, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome;
[2] Nicolas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego, 1627, Chatsworth House;
[3] Nicolas Poussin, Et in Arcadia Ego, 1637-38, Musée du Louvre, Paris
This is a study for the Arcadian shepherds in P69 Ego fui in Arcadia. Wilson may have been initially inspired by Guercino's Et in Arcadia Ego, which in his day was in the Corsini Gallery, Rome.
Object ID:15146
B. Ford, Country Life, 19 November 1948, p. 1054 (repr.); Ford 1951, p. 54, pl. 18; WGC, p. 160 under pl. 17b; Ford 1952, p. 313, fig. 4; Spencer-Longhurst 2012, pp. 71-72, fig.41
The form of the inscription differs from the more usual 'Et in Arcadia Ego', used by Poussin and other artists
Dimensions of mount: 198 x 276 mm; 7 13/16 x 10 7/8 in.