A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - III)

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A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - III)
A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - III)
A Summer Evening ('On the Arno'  - III)
Manchester City Galleries
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - III)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 123.5 x 105.9 cm
Imperial: 48 5/8 x 41 3/4 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
An Italianate rural landscape, with a high foreground overlooking a wide river with two trees punctuating the sky and a fallen trunk to the left and two boys fishing to the right. In the middle distance is a broad stretch of water with a rocky cliff in the background to the right, surmounted by a castle. There is a shallow bank to the left, with hazy plains and mountains in the distance. The delicate light, conveyed through soft colouring, is reflected in the river and enhances the sense of space.
London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (113)
Commissioned by John Lees and his wife, Deborah Worsley, for the dining room of Platt Hall, Rusholme, Manchester, where it still hangs over the fireplace, at a cost of 25 guineas, plus 12 shillings for shipping expenses; Mrs Clementia Tindal-Carill-Worsley; purchased from her 1969 with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund
Signed and dated on rock lower left: 'RW' [monogram, R reversed] 1764
Over 30 variants exist, many painted with the help of pupils - See also P96, P97, P98 and versions
Related Works by Other Artists
Charles Towne (1763-1840) Landscape, Easton Neston
Critical commentary
Wilson spent much of the 1750s in Italy and produced paintings of Italian scenes for the rest of his life. However, he also painted views of his native Wales and it is sometimes difficult to be sure, as with this painting, whether he meant to evoke the Arno, the Po, the Tiber or the Dee valley. The composition is similar to that found in many of his views, combining topographical detail, often studied in North Wales and Cheshire, with some artistic licence. There are many surviving versions of this picture - an archetypal 'good breeder'. David Solkin has described the present one as an ideal, non-topographical landscape, uniting the sublime castellated bluffs of the one side with the peaceful beauty of a Claudean river vista on the other.
The picture was noted by Farington when he dined at Platt Hall in 1796: 'An upright Landscape of Wilsons is over the Chimney piece in the dining room. Mr Worsley showed me a letter written by Wilson to Mr. Massey who ordered the picture for Mr. Lee - The picture is equal to a half length in size, yet Wilson had only 25 guineas for it & the Case and porterage 12s. - This was considerably less than Wilsons price, but Mr. Massey proposed the Commission and between him and Wilson the price was settled. - The picture is slight, but the eye of it beautiful. - Town, a Liverpool artist, at the desire of Mr. Blundell, has been lately permitted to copy it. Wilsons letter is dated Decr. 28th. 1764.'
Farington Diary, vol. 3, p. 687 (1 November 1796); WGC, p. 214, pl. 101a; National Art-Collections Fund, 66th Annual Report, 1969, no. 2365; F E. Johnston: 'A Wilson for Manchester', Burlington Magazine, vol. 112, August 1970, p. 535; A Concise Catalogue of British Paintings, Manchester City Art Gallery, vol. 1, 1976, p. 204; Herrmann 1973, p. 60, col. pl. VIII; Solkin 1982, pp. 221-22.
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
More Information
The title, A Summer Evening was Wilson's own, given in a letter of 18 December 1764 to James Massey, agent of John Lees (see E. Johnston: 'A Wilson for Manchester', Burlington Magazine, vol. 112, August 1970, p. 535). The work has also been known as River View on the Arno.
Kate Lowry has noted: Recently cleaned. The work is very bright in tone, with a light colour range. The yellow clouds are pulled down to act as a strong outline to the rocky bluff and distant mountains. The blue of the mountain is pulled down to the middle distant hills. The two boys fishing in foreground are very well painted. The detail of the castle on the bluff upper right is very precise and clear.