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Lake Avernus
The Trustees of the British Museum
Joseph Clayton Bentley after Wilson
Lake Avernus
Published August 1851
Etching and engraving
252 x 335 mm
9 15/16 x 13 3/16 in.
1872,1012.2050
E85
Landscape with a man leaning on his staff and another figure sitting in front of him, looking out over the lake from mossy boulders in the foreground. There are a ruined castle at the edge of the lake on the left and ships sailing beyond the curve of the lake to the right.
Edward Daniell, 53 Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square, London, from whom purchased, 1872
Lettered below the image with the title and 'R.WILSON, R.A. PAINTER.' 'J. C. BENTLEY, ENGRAVER.' | 'FROM THE PICTURE IN THE VERNON GALLERY.' | 'SIZE OF THE PICTURE | 2FT. 4 1/2 IN. BY 1 FT. 6 1/4 IN.' 'PRINTED BY G. VIRTUE.'; and publication line: LONDON PUBLISHED FOR THE PROPRIETORS.'
Lake Avernus, to the west on Naples, near Pozzuoli, lies in the volcanic region of the Phlegraean ('Burning') Fields. In classical mythology this was the site of the Underworld or 'Hades'. The entrance to Hades was said to lie in a nearby grotto, inhabited by the prophetess known as the Cumaean Sibyl. In Virgil's epic poem, The Aeneid, the Sibyl helps Aeneas, the Trojan prince, to enter Hades. There his father's ghost foretells his destiny as the founder of the Roman nation. Such associations made Lake Avernus a major attraction for landscape artists and travellers on the Grand Tour. The semi-ruined Temple of Apollo on the eastern shore of the lake to the left, was believed in Wilson's day to have been dedicated to Juno or Proserpina. On the south bank is the cavern of the Cumaean Sibyl.
D257 Lake Avernus, Monte Nuovo, the Island of Capri and Part of Baiae, The British Museum
An engraver's proof and a late etched state with sky blank and scratched engraver's name are at the British Museum (1852,0214.594 & 1851,0104.32 respectively)
P93 Lake Avernus and the Island of Capri, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
P93A Lake Avernus and the Island of Capri, Tate, London (the Vernon painting)
[1] J.M.W. Turner, Aeneas and the Sibyl, Lake Avernus, c. 1798, Tate, London (N00463)
[2] Giovanni Battista Lusieri, View of Lake Averno, watercolour 1786, Christie's New York, 29 January 2015 (112)
The print was an illustration to an accompanying anonymous article, 'The Vernon Gallery' in The Art Journal, August 1851 (see also E83, E88 and E91). In 1854 it featured with a two-page text in S.C. Hall's 3-volume catalogue of the Vernon Gallery (see Bibliography).
The Art Journal, vol. 13, August 1851, p. 212, November 1851, p. 280; vol 14, January 1852, p. 15; S.C. Hall ed., The Vernon Gallery, vol. 2, 1854, no. 20. (unpaginated).
Joseph Clayton Bentley (1809-1851) was a landscape painter, watercolourist and engraver. A pupil of Robert Brandard, he engraved plates for Messrs Fores and Virtue as well as plates such as this for 'The Vernon Gallery', subsequently published in The Art Journal.
09/03/2018