The Via Nomentana

The Via Nomentana
The Via Nomentana
The Via Nomentana
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Via Nomentana
Dated 1754
Black and white chalk with stumping on medium, moderately-textured, blue laid paper mounted on medium, moderately-textured, cream wove paper with a border of medium, moderately-textured wove paper with purple wash
Metric: 276 x 422 mm
Imperial: 10 7/8 x 16 5/8 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
The Via Nomentana runs north-east, from Rome to Mentana, formerly known as Nomentum. Behind are the Alban Hills and the Monti Prenestini. The view is taken from about two miles outside the Porta Pia, at the bridge across the Fossa della Cecchina. In the middle distance is the Ponte Nomentano.
Birmingham 1948-49 (87); London 1949 (86); Richmond, 1963 (57); New Haven, English Landscape, 1977 (17); New Haven 1981 (84); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (48); Tercentenary 2014 (66)
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 (20); bt Thomas Agnew & Sons, London; bt by Paul Mellon, February 1961
See 'Mount Inscriptions'
Verso inscriptions
[1] Inscribed: 36
[2] Graphite, upper left: 7402
Mount inscriptions
[1] Signed in black chalk on coloured border, lower left corner: R. Wilson f. Romae. 1754
[2] Inscribed on cartellino in brown ink, lower centre: The Via | Nomentana.
[3] Inscribed on the coloured border in black chalk, lower right corner: No. 18
The Via Nomentana was the setting for several ancient monuments drawn by Wilson and was a popular place for walking and picnicking in the 18th century
Related Drawings
D318 Ponte Nomentano, Tate London
Related Works by Other Artists
Francis Towne, View from the Martinelli Vineyard, two Miles from the Porta Pia, Rome, watercolour, 1780, The British Museum (Nn.2.10)
Critical commentary
One of a major series of drawings commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801) in 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 bridge visible in the middle distance crosses the River Aniene and was the subject for D318 Ponte Nomentano a separate drawing also made for Lord Dartmouth.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Object ID: 14280
Farington Diary, vol. 7, p. 2775 (1 June 1806); Farington Biographical Note p. 12; Ford 1948, p. 345, no. 18; Ford 1951, p. 61, no. 63; Taylor 1963, cat. 57; New Haven, English Landscape, 1977, pp. 12-13, pl. I; Solkin 1982, p.171; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 267 under cat. 195; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 254
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.