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Lake Albano
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Paul Mellon Collection
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Lake Albano
1762
Oil on canvas
121.9 x 173.4 cm
48 x 68 1/4 in.
1983.1.44
P118
The view is from the east side of Lake Albano, with Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence, on the left and on the right, Monte Cavo with the Roman villa used by Marcus Aurelius. Between them on the shore is a prominent wayside shrine and in the distance lie the Roman Campagna with aqueducts and the Sabine Hills beyond. In the foreground, a woman, two children and a dog stand on a rocky hilltop and a woman and child are seated to their right.
Cannon Hall, Barnsley, 1961 Pictures from North Country Houses (35); National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1986 Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr and Mrs. Paul Mellon (unnumbered)
Possibly Walter Spencer-Stanhope (d.1822), Horsforth and Cannon Hall, Barnsley,Yorkshire; Simon Spencer-Stanhope (b.1924), Banks Hall, Barnsley, sale, Henry Spencer & Sons, 16 September 1965 (229 repr.); bt Thomas Agnew & Sons London (#J.5144); 17 May 1966, bt by Mr & Mrs Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia; given to the National Gallery of Art, 1983
Signed and dated in foreground, lower right centre: WR [sic, monogram] 1762
D163 Lake Albano and Castel Gandolfo, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
E72/39 Thomas Hastings, The Lake of Albano, 1824, The British Museum (1854,0708.96)
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[1] Joseph Wright of Derby, Lake Albano and Castelgandolfo, 1792, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter (40/1957/3)
Evidence of underdrawing in a version in the collection at Eton Collecge (P118B) suggests that Wilson may have worked on the two versions simultaneously. While the final position, as opposed to the underdrawn position of the heads of the two figures to the right of the central group, corresponds in both canvases, the bank below and to the right of the boats in the National Gallery of Art, Washington picture corresponds more closely with the underdrawing of the Eton College painting. In general both versions are extremely close in composition, including the position of the birds in the sky.
Country Life, 21 October 1965; The Connoisseur, November 1965; European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985, p. 438, repr.; J. Hayes, British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries: The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue, Washington, D.C., 1992, pp. 334-336, colour repr.
Dimensions framed: 145.4 x 195.6 x 7 cm (57 1/4 x 77 x 2 3/4 in.) The medium-weight canvas is plain woven; it has been lined. The left edge has been folded over the non-original stretcher, obscuring approximately 2 cm of the painted surface. Both vertical edges are extended by the addition of wooden strips approximately 1.5 cm wide, which are painted to correspond with the adjacent original paint. The ground is off-white, thickly and smoothly applied. The painting is executed thinly and fluidly, blended wet into wet in the foreground and middle ground, leaving the ground visible; the figures are put in over the landscape with thicker paint. The landscape and sky are thickly painted, with low impasto in the highlights. The paint surface is slightly abraded, most notably on the left side of the lake; the thick paint has been slightly flattened. There is scattered retouching in the sky. There are discoloured residues of an earlier natural resin varnish in the hills left and right. The overlying synthetic resin varnish has not discoloured.