Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 13
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 13
1752
Black chalk on white paper
188 x 130 mm (volume: 203 x 143 mm)
8 x 5 5/8 in.
E.3586-1922
D53/13
View of a seashore with a gigantic naked figure lying in the right foreground, surrounded by miniature people
Bt about 1922 from Miss Alice J. Bowles
Numbered below the image lower right: 18
Page numbered upper right corner: 13
It has been suggested that Wilson's inspiration for this curious composition came from Swift's Gulliver's Travels or alternatively the description by the ancient author Philostratus (Imagines, II, 22) of Hercules among the Pygmies (see Bibliography, J. K. Welcher & R. Joseph and R. Halsband respectively).
D96 Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
E60/8 John Whessell after Wilson, Studies & Designs: View of a Seashore with a naked Figure lying in the right Foreground, The British Museum
E60/8A John Whessell after Wilson, Studies & Designs: View of a Seashore with a naked Giant lying in the right Foreground, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
The political satire, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift was first published in 1726 with the title, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships. Immediately popular, it was amended in 1735 and remained a universal favourite throughout the 18th century and beyond. D53/13 may illustrate Part 1, describing Gulliver's first voyage, when he is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself the prisoner of a race of tiny people, less than 6 inches tall, who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. Alternatively the subject may be the classical one of Hercules among the Pygmies, which would accord witrh Wilson's known familiarity with ancient authors and explain the gigantic figure's nudity.
Solkin 1982, pp. 152, 157; J.K. Welcher & R. Joseph, 'Gulliverian Drawings by Richard Wilson' Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 18, no. 2 (Winter, 1984-1985), pp. 170-85; R. Halsband, 'Comments on "Gulliverian Drawings by Richard Wilson"', Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (Winter, 1985-1986), pp. 254-256.
Only two sketchbooks by Wilson have survived - the present one (D53-D53/81) and D280-D280/33 Italian Sketchbook - Drawings, 1754, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.