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Torre delle Grotte near Naples
The Trustees of the British Museum
William Hodges after Wilson
Torre delle Grotte near Naples
Published 29 January 1776
Etching
172 x 247 mm (trimmed)
6 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (trimmed)
1863,0725.626
E35A
View of three caves cut into a cliff-face, with a square tower on the summit and a stone arch projecting into the sea on the left. This side of the bay, men in a small barge can be seen in the left foreground and there are other sailing craft in the distance.
Tercentenary 2014 (118)
John Kalergi (d. 1863); his sale, Sotheby's 24-25 July 1863; bt through Edward Daniell, 53 Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, London, 1863
Lettered below the image:
[1] Upper left: 'R. Wilson del.'
[2] Upper right: 'W. Hodges Sc.'
[3] Centre: TORRE DELLE GROTTE near NAPLES.
It has recently been shown by Simon and Postle that the scene is of Torregaveta, a craggy outcrop on the Phlegraean peninsula to the east of Naples. Close to Baiae, Cumae and the volcanic lakes of Fusaro and Avernus, it had many classical associations. At the summit of the cliffs was the ruin of a villa fortress constructed by the Roman consul, Servilius Vatia (c.122-44 BC). The tower of the villa was still prominent in the 18th century but was damaged in the Second World War, by which time the rock face and the arches had also been much eroded.
D207 Torre delle Grotte, near Naples Tate, London
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P70 Torre delle Grotte near Naples, Private Collection, Yorkshire
P70A Torre delle Grotte near Naples, John Mitchell Fine Art Paintings
Twelve Original Views in Italy was published by John Boydell as a compilation of etchings by different printmakers, produced over a number of years, after Wilson's drawings or paintings. The present print was based on a related drawing, probably D207 (Tate, London). It is the only print in the series made by Wilson's former pupil, William Hodges and is likely to have been completed before July 1772, when Hodges left England with Captain Cook's second voyage to the Pacific (less probably in late 1775 after his return). It differs from the paintings of the subject in the relative size and proportions of the openings in the rocks, the arrangements of the more distant boats and in the sky.
Edwards 1808, pp. 88, 251; Ford 1951, p. 57; WGC, p. 199 under pl. 78a, b; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 295