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Lago d'Agnano with Vesuvius in the Distance (Lago d'Agnano - I)
Photograph by Matthew Hollow
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Lago d'Agnano with Vesuvius in the Distance (Lago d'Agnano - I)
Oil on canvas
43.8 x 54.2 cm
17 1/4 x 21 3/16 in.
Private Collection, England
Lago d'Agnano, formerly situated eight kilometres west of Naples, is seen from the west, looking southeast across the lake and crater, past Naples towards Mount Vesuvius, smoking in the distance to the left. The peninsula of Sorrento is seen in the centre and the island of Capri on the right. Two women are in conversation in the centre-right foreground.
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Exhibition of Works by Old Masters, 1894 (24 or 46 - lent Linton); London, Wildenstein, A Centenary Memorial Exhibition of John Constable R.A., His Origins and Influence, April-May 1937 (5)
Sir James Dromgole Linton, P.R.I. (1840-1916); E. Meredith Crosse, by whom sold at Christie's, London, 19 July 1935 (113), bt Thomson; Charles E. Russell, 1937; Edward Fattorini, by whose estate sold Sotheby's, London, 14 July 1993 (83), where bought for the present owner.
Unsigned; no inscription
The original ground is pale grey in colour with a pink underpaint applied beneath the sky.
[1] Left vertical member of stretcher, white chalk: LOT 83 14-7-93
[1] Upper horizontal member of stretcher, hand-written RA exhibition label, 1894: Richard Wilson / Landscape. Vesuvius in the distance / Sir James D. Linton P.R.I. / 5 Cromwell Place
The waterfilled volcanic crater was a popular resort in ancient times on account of its hot, sulphurous springs but was drained in the 1870s in order to limit the spread of mosquito-borne malaria. It had been a major attraction for eighteenth-century Grand Tourists.
D177 The Lago di Agnano, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (WA1967.18)
P47B corresponds closely with a drawing made during a visit in 1752 or later (D177) which also served as the basis for other compositions, of which the best version is P47A Lago d'Agnano with Vesuvius in the Distance, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven. During his time in Italy, Wilson made several expeditions to Naples and its environs, first in 1752, then in the spring of 1753 and again in 1756.
WGC pp. 190-91, pl. 63a (version 2)
It was landscapes such as this, partially based on the landscapes of Claude Lorrain but more generalised in atmosphere and representing actual views, that largely formed the idea of Italian landscape current in England during the second half of the 18th century. They were eagerly copied and emulated after Wilson's death.
Kate Lowry has noted: The original canvas is medium weight simple weave linen. Turnover edges removed at the time of relining. The present lining is a similar weight linen and the adhesive is glue-paste. The 7 member stretcher with square mortice joints and provision for keying out dates from the lining and is possibly late 19th century. The original ground is pale grey in colour with a pink underpaint applied beneath the sky. The sky has been painted down to the distant horizon as is characteristic in Wilson's paintings. The lining treatment has generally flattened the original impasto throughout. Under UV light a few small scattered retouches are visible in the sky especially at the centre top edge. The dark areas of the foreground have been a little more retouched than the sky but generally the painting is relatively undamaged. There is some minor drying cracking in the lower left foreground. There is no evidence to suggest that this is not by Wilson.