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An Italian River Scene, with the Temple of Clitumnus and Ruins, two Figures and Cows
Collection of Richard L. Feigen
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
An Italian River Scene, with the Temple of Clitumnus and Ruins, two Figures and Cows
c.1753 (undated)
Oil on canvas
48.9 x 73.7 cm
19 1/4 by 29 in.
Wilson himself is said to have described this view as 'the [...] Scenery taken from the long-famed Clitumnus, near the once mystic Temple of Juno, which I have herein restored from its state in ruins, as seen near the source gently cascading into the streamlet, from whence flows that classic river. The period of time described produces the effects of those lights, &c. which succeed to the dawn of day, interspersed with the vapours and subdued tints that accompany the morning atmosphere.' (Christie's sale catalogue, 28 June 1814 (82))
SA 1761 (136 - a version, as companion to The Bridge at Rimini); probably BI 1814 (152/155 A Landscape or 153/156 A View near Rome); BI 1824 (176); BI 1844 (164); Leeds 1868 (1189 - Landscape - Sunset, lent J.H. Hawkins); Birmingham 1948-49 (4 - lent by T.W. Bacon); London 1949 (3); New York 2010 (5)
Probably James Paine; his sale, Christie's 28 June 1814 (82 - A beautiful Landscape ... ); Mr Gray of Leadenhall Street, London; John Hawkins (c.1758-1841) , Bignor Park, Sussex; his son, John Heywood Hawkins; Christopher Henry Thomas Hawkins, 10 Portland Place, London; his executors' sale Christie's 11 May 1896 (27), bt McLean (£20); by 1948 Thomas Walter Bacon (1863-1950); F.T. Bacon; Sotheby's 14 June 2001 (8 - unsold); with Ben Elwes Fine Art, London; bt Richard L. Feigen, New York, 2005; Sotheby's New York, 18 October 2021 (46)
[1] Upper horizontal member of frame, right, white chalk: 721
[1] Upper horizontal member of frame, left, printed label: Ben Elwes Fine Art, 45 Maddox Street, London W1S 2PE
The setting is a temple supposedly once the sanctuary of the god Clitumnus, near Spoleto in Umbria, which was converted into a Christian church in the 4th century AD. It stands besides the source of a spring from which rises the river also known as Clitumnus.
E8 Giuseppe Vasi after Wilson, Veduta del Tempio, e Fiume del Clitunno nello Stato presente, The British Museum
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[1] J.M.W. Turner, Wilson Sketchbook, 1796-97, p. pp. 78-79, Tate, London
The classical associations of the site made the temple a popular destination for Grand Tourists, and Wilson must have visited there on his journey from Venice to Rome with William Lock of Norbury and Thomas Jenkins in late 1751. No outdoor drawings of the site by Wilson survive but an etching by Giuseppe Vasi (E8) reproducing a finished drawing by him, was published in Rome in 1753 and must represent his earliest known treatment of the subject.
Bacon Collection 115
Perhaps Brettingham Account Book, p. 42; Christie's sale catalogue, 28 June 1814 (82); WGC, pp. 82, 109, 197, pl. 75b; J.J. Emerick, The Tempietto del Clitumno near Spoleto, 1998, vol. 2, p. 121, n. 22; Feigen 2010, unpaginated; D. Marignoli, 'Richard Wilson e il Tempietto Clitunno', Spoletium, vol. 48, no. 4, 2011, pp. 106-113
The site was later celebrated by Byron in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812), Canto IV, Stanzas lxvi-lxviii.
Dimensions framed: 71.1 x 97.2 cm (28 x 38 1/4 in.)