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Niobe
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
William Sharp (1749-1824) and Samuel Smith (1745-1810) after Wilson
Niobe
Published 31 May 1792
Line engraving and etching on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 502 x 664 mm
Sheet: 19 3/4 x 26 1/8 in.
B1977.14.14569
E54
Eleven of Niobe's children are killed in a stormy setting, whose horror is emphasised by trees broken or bent with the wind, lightning, tumultuous seas and a lurid sky.
Tercentenary 2014 (111)
Acquired 1977
Lettered below the image with arms of Sir George Beaumont and motto: ERECTUS NON ELATUS;
[1] Upper left: ''The Figures Engraved by Willm. Sharp.'
[2] Upper centre: NIOBE
[3] Upper right: 'The Landscape by Saml. Smith.'
[4] Centre: 'From the FIRST PICTURE on that Subject Painted by RICHARD WILSON ESQ. R.A. | In the Collection of Sir George Beaumont Bart. To whom this Plate is respectfully Dedicated by his obliged humble Servant Samuel Smith.
[5] Lower centre, publication line: London Published as the Act directs by S.Smith, No.58 Castle street east Oxford-street May 31, 1792.'
[1] Lower right, graphite: '(IR74/654)'
D355 Study for Figure for Niobe, National Museum Wales, Cardiff (NMW A 1885)
NWD400 Samuel Sharp after Wilson Niobe, The British Museum
E52 William Sharp and Samuel Smith Niobe, 1788, National Museum Wales, Cardiff and other impressions
E58 William Sharp and Samuel Smith Niobe, 1803, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1577/3)
E79/1 Samuel Lacey after Wilson, Niobe, The British Museum
E86 William James Linton after Wilson, Destruction of the Children of Niobe, The British Museum
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P90B The Destruction of Niobe's Children, Ex-National Gallery (destroyed)
P90D Studio of Wilson, Apollo destroying the Children of Niobe, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
P90E The Destruction of Niobe's Children, Collection of Richard L. Feigen & Co
Despite the assertion in the inscription that Sir George Beaumont's painting (destroyed in 1944) was the first version of the subject it is now generally accepted that the earliest version was P90A The Destruction of the Children of Niobe, Private Collection at Ashridge, England, commissioned in Rome by the Duke of Bridgewater in 1754-55. As noted by Robin Simon, the present engraving shows that Beaumont's lost picture contained none of the figures repainted or introduced by Placido Costanzi in the Bridgewater version although like the version at Yale (P90) it repeated some of those figures by Wilson that remained in the Bridgewater painting, including the recumbent male in the centre.
Object ID: 40392
W.S Baker, William Sharp, Engraver, with a descriptive Catalogue of his Works, Philadelphia 1975, p. 83, no. 113 (3); Borenius 1944; WGC, p. 160, under pl. 18; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 291
Plate dimensions: 495 x 660 mm (19 1/2 x 26 in.)