The Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome

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The Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
The Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
The Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
Private Collection, England / Photograph by John Hammond
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
c.1753-54 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 48.3 x 62.2 cm
Imperial: 19 x 24 1/2 in.
Private Collection, England
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
As proposed by Jonathan Yarker, the view was probably taken from a slight incline in the Orto Serena, identified by the antiquarian Ridolfo Venuta as a defensive mound associated with Tarquin, one of Rome's earliest kings. The façade and campanile of the church of Santa Bibiana are visible in a modified form beyond to the left.
Brighton 1920 (29 - Landscape); Exeter 1946 (66); Birmingham 1948-49 (21) London 1949 (20); Norwich 1958 (58); Rome 1959 (667); London 1968 (21); London Arts Council, The Age of Neo-Classicism, 1972 (280); Kenwood 1974 (148); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (69); Conwy 2009 (4); Weston 2011 (10); Gainsborough's House 2014 (unnumbered)
Benjamin Booth; thence by descent
Techniques and materials
The foreground is extremely dark
The so-called temple of Minerva the Doctor was located next to the Porta Maggiore in Rome, on agricultural land within the ancient Aurelian walls. It was a popular subject for painters and had been featured at length by Andrea Palladio in I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura, vol. 4 (1570). One of the most famous and frequently reproduced monuments in eighteenth-century Rome, it had actually been a nymphaeum, or hall for ceremonial receptions, built for the Emperor P. Licinius Gallienus (235-268 AD). Today the building faces the Via Giolitti, between the Via Labicana and the Aurelian Walls. Its distinctive decagonal dome collapsed in 1828.
Related Drawings
D317 The Temple of Minerva Medica ,Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
D317A The Temple of Minerva Medica, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
Related Prints
E72/28 Hastings after Wilson, Temple of Minerva Medica, The British Museum (1854,0708.85)
Related Works by Other Artists
[1] Francis Towne (1739-1816): The Temple of Minerva at Sunset, watercolour, 1781, The British Museum (Nn,1.19)
[2] J.-B.-C. Corot, Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome, 1826, Musées d'Angers
Critical commentary
The atmosphere of picturesque decay is accentuated by the gentle reverie of the classicising women in the foreground.
Booth Notes Doc. 8, p. 2; Booth Notes Doc. 9 (*34); Hastings 1825, p. 3 n.; Bury 1947, pl. 32; Ford 1951, p. 59; WGC, pp. 35, 82, 206, pl. 89; Solkin 1982, pp. 186-87; Walpole Society 1998-1, pp. 14-15, pl. 16; Lord 2009, p. 49, no. 4; Williams 2011, p. 21, repr.
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
More Information
Wilson included a drawing of the building among the series that he made in Italy for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (D317 see 'Related Drawings'). The painting was probably also executed in Rome. Thomas Hastings commented that John Constable held this work in special regard, believing that it 'went far beyond anything he ever saw of Wilson's works and that, in his opinion, it possessed all the rigidity of the Italian School, with the great breadth so natural to the Master'.
Updated by Compiler
2020-05-25 00:00:00