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View on the Thames near Twickenham, Marble Hill House
English Heritage
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
View on the Thames near Twickenham, Marble Hill House
c.1762 (undated)
Oil on canvas
58.8 x 89.8 cm
23 1/8 x 35 3/8 in.
MH34
P89B
The view is taken from the south side of the Thames near Petersham and shows the prospect upstream towards Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, with the pediment of Marble Hill House visible through the trees to the right. At the bend of the river the red brick of Ham House may be discerned and to its left the cottages of the village of Ham. In the foreground a man is leaning against a tree with another, evidently a swimmer, seated next to him. To their left a laden barge is sailing downstream while two horses and a rider head in the opposite direction on the near bank. Beyond, the afternoon sun breaks through fleecy clouds, which are reflected in the water.
SA 1762 (133 - a version); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (102)
D. Campbell-Johnston, Dumfriesshire; Sotheby's 25 May 1955 (119); bt Fine Art Society, London; The Rt Hon. Malcolm Macdonald, O.M.; his sale, 16 July 1975 (21), bt Agnew for Marble Hill House with funding from the National Art Collections Fund, the Pilgrim Trust and the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund
Possible signature lower centre edge: RW; no inscription
The layering of paint in the distance is subtle and beautiful in effect. The trees are painted over reserves, revealing pinky-brown underpainting and there are pentimenti in the fork of the right hand tree. There is succulent impasto on the clouds and the figures. The technique of the figures on the river hints at a knowledge of Canaletto.
[1] Sale room stamp in black ink upper left on stretcher: 93 X
[2] Indistinguishable faint white chalk manuscript along upper stretcher: Wilson [?] Marble Hill [?]
Verso:
[1] Upper stretcher, centre: MR MACDONALD | No. 21[?]5[?]
[2] Central stretcher: James Bourlet | 17-18 Nassau St [&c] 39969
[3] Lower stretcher, centre: Thomas Agnew [&c] | 38554
[4] Upper member of frame, centre, torn label in black ink: View of [...]mes | Frederick
[This apparently described Marble Hill as Lord Frederick Campbell's house. Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, acted as agent in acquiring the land on which the house was built for Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk. Lord Frederick Campbell (1729-1816) third son of the 4th Duke of Argyll, may have been one of the tenants in the house after the death of the Countess in 1767].
The Thames at Twickenham was a fashionable location, which had attracted painters from the 1720s. The region had also come to acquire an elevated status by the third quarter of the 18th century from the presence and publications of Alexander Pope, who made Twickenham his home from 1719 until his death in 1744 and was much involved in the planning of the gardens at Marble Hill. As a Palladian villa, Marble Hill House could claim kinship with both the great Venetian Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio (1508-80) and the architectural heritage of ancient Rome.
E72/31 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, On the Thames, The British Museum (1854,0708.88)
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Peter Tillemans (c. 1684-1734), View of the Thames at Twickenham, c.1720-25, Richmond upon Thames Borough Art Collection, Orleans House, London
This is a limpid picture that demonstrates Wilson's style on his return from Italy well. The reflections in the water are extremely subtle. Wilson however has played down the series of terraces which ran down to the Thames from Marble Hill House. The large number of versions confirms this as one of his most popular English subjects, whilst the quality of the present picture could make it the prime version.
Gazette des Beaux-Arts, mars 1976 (acquisition 247); Solkin 1982, pp. 213-14
Marble Hill House, Twickenham
Marble Hill House was built for Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk and mistress of King George II. Roger Morris oversaw the construction of the house, which was completed in 1729. It was later occupied by Mrs Fitzherbert, mistress and morganatic wife of King George IV.
Frame measurements: 74.5 x 106 cm. It was paste relined and AMSSEE (Area Museums Service for South Eastern England) carried out the treatment between 1981 and 1991 (the stretcher dates from relining). Original canvas simple weave. Turnovers removed at time of lining. Light reddish-brown ground. Plain weave canvas shows through in places with some cusping at the right edge. There are two small overpainted paint losses lower right. Visible brushwork in clouds; impasto used on highlighted leaves of nearest tree. Areas of drying/contraction cracks in the sky over to the right of the middle tree. Stretcher bar marks visible. Drying defects in the light paint of the towpath lower centre. Varnish has yellowed (2000). Plywood backboard.
15/03/2021