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View of St Peter's and the Vatican from the Janiculum
The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence 2014
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
View of St Peter's and the Vatican from the Janiculum
Dated 1754
Black chalk and stump, heightened with white on grey-green paper
286 x 423 mm
11 1/4 x 16 5/8 in.
This view from Monte Gianicolo extends north beyond the Vatican towards Monte Soratte on the horizon. In the foreground a woman and child walk downhill past a milestone towards the city and a pack horse and mounted figures also make their way towards it on the right.
Birmingham 1948-49 (82); London 1949 (81); Tercentenary 2014 (64)
William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, who commissioned it in Rome in 1754; by descent until lost; rediscovered by Lady Dartmouth, Patshull House, Wolverhampton 1948; Christie's London 29 January 1954 (15), bt Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd, London; Walter C. Baker (1893-1971) New York; bequeathed to Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1971
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
[1] Inscribed: 41
[1] Signed on coloured border lower left: R Wilson f. Romae 1754
[2] Inscribed in black ink on cartellino lower centre: Vatican.
[3] Inscribed lower right: No. 13
The Janiculum Hill was a centre for the cult of the Roman god Janus. This view to the northwest is now largely obscured by buildings. In antiquity the Janiculum was known for noble villas, military triumphs, ancient burials and Christian martyrdoms. In the 17th and 18th centuries the area had associations with the Pamphilj family, one of whom, Cardinal Giovan Battista Pamphilj, reigned as Pope Innocent X from 1644 to 1655.
D204 View of St Peter's from the Palace of the Caesars, with the Circus Maximus below, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Leonora Gurley Memorial Collection
D298 The Vatican and Environs (Distant View of St Peter's Rome), location unknown
E59 Samuel Middiman after Wilson, View of Rome, The British Museum
E59A Samuel Middiman after Wilson, View of Rome, The British Museum
E59B Samuel Middiman after Wilson, View of Rome, The British Museum
P57 Rome: St Peter's and the Vatican from the Janiculum , Tate, London
P57A St Peter's and the Vatican from the Janiculum, Rome, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in 1754, of which 25 are known to survive. The Dartmouth set is the most important group of the artist's finished compositions on paper. Originally numbering 68, the drawings were highly prized by the earl and much admired by connoisseurs of the day including William Lock of Norbury, as well as the artists John Hoppner and Joseph Farington. Hoppner said of them, 'they were such as the Greeks would have made & put all others at a distance' and Farington was almost certainly referring to them when he characterised Wilson's drawings as having 'all the qualities of his pictures except the colour.' Drawings from the set are distinguished by a white mount with lilac wash border, on which the artist attached a small white label, bearing the title of the work. Jonathan Yarker has suggested the grounds of the Villa Lante, which stands on the Janiculum Hill, as the site from which the view was taken, noting also that in the corresponding painting for Dartmouth, P57 Rome: St Peter's and the Vatican from the Janiculum, Tate, London, Wilson introduced fragments of classical sculpture, which are not present in this more strictly topographical drawing.
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, fig. 7, no. 13; Ford 1951, pp. 60-61, no. 60; WGC, p. 220, pl. 110b; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 252-53
This is one of 20 views of the environs of Rome referred to by Thomas Jenkins in a letter dated 1 June 1754. Of these only no. 1 is missing from the serial numbers recorded in the lower right corner of each. All the Dartmouth drawings have numbers in graphite on the back, ranging (with gaps) from 23 to 61, thus supporting the total of 68 given by Farington. The mounts of the surviving drawings, with their lilac wash borders, were made by Wilson or under his direction, perhaps by Jenkins.