Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome

Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome
Dated 1754
Black chalk,stump and white chalk on medium, moderately textured, blue laid paper mounted on medium, cream, moderately-textured wove paper with border of medium, moderately textured wove paper with purple wash
Metric: 286 x 419 mm
Imperial: 11 1/4 x 16 1/2 in.
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 an early defensive mound associated with Tarquin, one of Rome's earliest kings. The façade and campanile of the church of Santa Bibiana are visible in woodland beyond the 'temple' to the left. In the right background are the Baths of Diocletian and the Church of S. Maria degli Angeli.
Birmingham 1948-49 (88); London 1949 (87); Rome 1959 (666); National Gallery of Art, Washington DC., 1962, English Drawings and Water Colors from the Collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon (98); New York and London 1972 (25); New Haven, English Landscape, 1977 (16); New Haven 1981 (73); New Haven 2001 (98); New Haven and London 2007-8 (20); Tercentenary 2014 (67)
Commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in Rome in 1753; by descent until lost; rediscovered by Lady Dartmouth, Patshull House, Wolverhampton 1948; 8th Earl of Dartmouth; Christie's 29 January 1954 (21); bt Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd, London; bt Paul Mellon, February 1961
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
Verso inscriptions
[1] 30
[2] Graphite, upper left: 7403
Mount inscriptions
[1] Black chalk on coloured border of original mount, lower left: R Wilson f. 1754.
[2] Pen and brown ink on cartellino superimposed on coloured border of original mount, lower centre: T. of Minerva | Medica.
[3] Black chalk on coloured border of original mount, lower right: No. 19
The so-called temple of Minerva 'the physician' 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 Palladio in vol. 4 of I quattro Libri dell'Archittetura (1570). One of the most famous and frequently reproduced monuments in 18th 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
D278 Landscape Composition - An Italian Garden, National Galleries of Scotland
D317A The Temple of Minerva Medica, Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester
Related Prints
E72/28 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Temple of Minerva Medica, The British Museum (1854,0708.85)
Related Paintings
P60 The Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome, Private Collection, England
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
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) iin 1754, of which 25 are known to survive. The Dartmouth set is the most important group of the artist's finished compositions on paper. Originally numbering 68, the drawings were highly prized by the earl and much admired by connoisseurs of the day including William Lock of Norbury, and the artists John Hoppner and Joseph Farington. Hoppner said of them, 'they were such as the Greeks would have made & put all others at a distance' and Farington was almost certainly referring to them when he characterised Wilson's drawings as having 'all the qualities of his pictures except the colour.' Drawings from the set are distinguished by a white mount with lilac wash border, on which the artist attached a small white label, bearing the title of the work. The present drawing differs in its viewpoint and in numerous details from the related painting, P60 The Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome , Private Collection, England.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Object ID: 14277
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, fig. 5, p. 345, no. 19; Ford 1951, pp. 59-60, no. 55; WGC, p. 206, pl. 88b; Mahonri Sharp Young, 'The Mellon Drawings at the Morgan, Apollo, vol. 95, no. 122 (April 1972), pp. 331, 332-33, fig. 3; English Landscape 1977, pp. 11-12, pl. LIV; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195; Baskett 2007, pp. 250-51, no. 20, pl. 20; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 254-55
More Information
This is one of 20 views of the environs of Rome referred to by Thomas Jenkins a letter dated 1 June 1754. Of these only no. 1 is missing from the serial numbers recorded in the lower right corner of each. All the Dartmouth drawings have numbers in graphite on the back, ranging (with gaps) from 23 to 61, thus supporting the total of 68 given by Farington. The mounts of all the surviving Dartmouth drawings, with their lilac wash borders, were made by Wilson or under his direction, perhaps by Jenkins. A drawing of the temple of Minerva Medica was in the Paul Sandby sale, Christie's 3 May 1811 (95). A very similar urn to that shown here on the balustrade at the left appears in D278.