Landscape with Banditti: The Murder

Landscape with Banditti: The Murder
Landscape with Banditti: The Murder
Landscape with Banditti: The Murder
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Landscape with Banditti: The Murder
Oil on canvas
Metric: 73.8 x 98.5 cm
Imperial: 29 1/16 x 38 3/4 in.
Accession Number
NMW A 69
Wilson Online Reference
Mountainous landscape with a bandit attacking a half-clothed kneeling woman while a companion tries to restrain him. A dead man lies on the ground behind her. In the right foreground a second woman tries to drag their baggage behind a rock.
BI, London 1853 (138); J.A. Tooth Galleries, London, May 1951 (4); Kenwood 1967 (30); Richard Wilson Painter 1713-1782, Welsh Arts Council 1969 (2); London 1973-74 (30); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (63); Tercentenary 2014 (52)
Commissioned with P51 by James Russel for Ralph Howard (Viscount Wicklow from 1785); by descent to William Cecil James, 8th Earl of Wicklow, Shelton Abbey, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Ireland; Sotheby's London, 23 October 1950 (1575) as one of a Set of 4 Rocky Landscapes and Figures by 'Salveta Rose'; bt J.A. Tooth; P.& D. Colnaghi; bt by the National Museum of Wales, 1953
Signed and dated on the rock lower right: RW 1752
Techniques and materials
The canvas support is a much finer weave than that of its companion P51 but the paint film contains the same coarsely-ground pigments over a warm brown ground. Some alterations have been made to the central figure group, suggesting that they may originally have represented the flight into Egypt, but the changes in composition are not as radical as those found in P51.
Related Drawings
D173 Study for the Murder, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
D323 Landscape with Banditti: The Murder, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Related Prints
E72/32 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, The Murder, The British Museum and other impressions
See 'Links' tab
Related Paintings
Pendant: P51 Landscape with Banditti round a Tent, National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Critical commentary
Painted between January and November 1752 as one of two landscapes with banditti for Ralph Howard. Stylistic comparison with P51 supports David Solkin's observation that this composition is more responsive to the landscape painters admired in contemporary Rome, notably Salvator Rosa and Claude-Joseph Vernet. The exaggerated gestures of the powerful murderer about to stab his pleading victim recall the theatre rather than real life. This effect is heightened by the dramatic mountainous background conceived in the manner of Rosa. The sublime action and surroundings in turn may be seen as a pointer to Wilson's pivotal painting, P90 The Death of the Children of Niobe, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Old Accession Number: 53.132
Old Registration Number: 858
Ford May 1951, p. 162, fig. 17; WGC, pp. 29, 31, 71, 79, 157-58, pl. 12b; Cardiff 1961, pp. 10-11; Kenwood 1967 exh. cat., p. 20, no. 30; Parris 1973, p. 29; Solkin 1982, pp. 180-81; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 255 under cat. 165; Ingamells 1997, p. 1008; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 242. A. Kidson, Earlier British Paintings in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, National Museums & Galleries, Merseyside, 1999, pp. 180-82; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 243
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
More Information
The influence on Wilson of Salvator Rosa (1615-1673) was still strong in Rome, but is here overlaid with those of Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) and Marco Ricci (1676-1730). As Solkin has noted, the painting was begun before 13 January 1752 and finished before 14 November that year - the date of Wilson's account for this and other Wicklow pictures. The price was 20 sequins (approximately £10). Although Wilson seems to have been paid 50 per cent in advance in Rome, he asked for the balance to be deposited with 'Mr Gavin Hambleton Portrait Painter' at an address near St James's Street, London. Gavin Hamilton is known to have been in London for a short period in 1752 and appears to have been entrusted to bring the payment back to Wilson in Rome. P50 was probably painted just after P51.
Kate Lowry has noted: Original canvas is very fine weave linen canvas, 20 threads per sq cm. Some of the original turnovers have been retained at all edges indicating the position of the original tack holes. Lined with wax-resin adhesive onto a simple weave linen of similar weight to the original and attached to stretcher through lining turnovers. Pine stretcher not original to the work. A single layer of pale red-brown ground applied after stretching as it does not cover turnover edges. Probably bound in oil. SEM-EDX analysis indicates a mixture of red ochre, lead white and chalk. X-ray indicates minor losses of paint and ground at left and right hand margins as well as bottom edge. Dark red underpaint shows through cracks in centre of mountain, in rocks at right and in trousers of central figure. In normal light and IR, two pentimenti are visible in the mountain peaks. The X-ray shows that the central figure group may have undergone some changes. Strong mature cracks in centre sky are stable. Minor mature cracking elsewhere. No major damages. Minor retouches visible in trees and figures under UV. The canvas support is a much finer weave than that of its companion P51, but the paint film contains the same coarsely-ground pigments over a warm brown ground.