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Circus of Caracalla
Tate, London 2014
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Circus of Caracalla
c.1752-56 (undated)
Black and white chalk and stump over graphite on grey laid paper, laid down on old card
267 x 397 mm
10 1/2 x 15 5/8 in.
T09296
D273
View of an arena, framed by a massive stone arch, from which hang creepers. In the left foreground are two figures, one seated with a staff over his shoulder, and a dog. To the right of this group is a boulder and there is another at the right base of the arch. Beyond the arena are several buildings and trees. The view is towards the west on what is currently the edge of the Via Appia Pignatelli. To the left in the middle distance, stands the round tower of the mausoleum of Caecilia Metella - one of the most imposing classical remains on the Via Appia Antica. Martin Postle has noted that in actuality it is visible only when one stands before the arch.
Tercentenary 2014 (115)
William Lock; his sale, Sotheby's 3 May 1821; William Esdaile; E. Horsman Coles; A.P. Oppé; purchased as part of the Oppé Collection with assistance from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, 1996
Signed lower right corner on archway shadow, black chalk: RW [monogram, the R reversed]
Inscribed in ink lower right corner: WE
[1] Ink, lower right corner: WE. (William Esdaile, Lugt 2617)
The reverse is invisible because the card is stuck to the modern mount
[1] Inscribed on secondary support in black ink, lower left corner: 100 x
The Circus of Caracalla was the 18th century name for what is now known as the Circus of Maxentius. It was part of a palace complex flanking the Via Appia Antica built by the Emperor Maxentius in 306-12 AD. .
E33 Edward Rooker after Wilson, Circus of Caracalla (from Twelve Original Views in Italy), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
E33A Edward Rooker after Wilson, Circus of Caracalla (from Twelve Original Views in Italy), The British Museum
E33B Edward Rooker after Wilson, Circus of Caracalla (from Twelve Original Views in Italy), Royal Academy of Arts, London
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The scene is viewed against the setting sun, allowing the artist to capitalise on a sophisicated combination of light and long cast shadows so as to achieve a remarkable elegiac quality.
2501
Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 293
The Circus of Caracalla, Rome
Brown spotting overall