The Villa Madama, Rome, with a Man seated in the Foreground

The Villa Madama, Rome, with a Man seated in the Foreground
The Villa Madama, Rome, with a Man seated in the Foreground
The Villa Madama, Rome, with a Man seated in the Foreground
Private Collection, England / Photograph by Matthew Hollow
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Villa Madama, Rome, with a Man seated in the Foreground
c.1753 (undated)
Black chalk over graphite with white highlights on grey paper
Metric: 195 x 257 mm
Imperial: 7 5/8 x 10 1/8 in.
Private Collection, England
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
An artist, presumably intended as Wilson himself, sits with his back to us on Monte Mario, looking towards the Villa Madama and beyond towards Rome, above what is now the Stadio Olimpico.
London 1925 (73 - Richard Wilson sketching); Manchester 1925 (46 - Richard Wilson sketching Raphael's Villa); Exeter 1946 (12); Norwich 1958 (62 - The Villa Madama); Rome 1959 (675); Beaumont 1969 (17); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (37); Conwy 2009 (5); Gainsborough House 2014 (unnumbered); Tercentenary 2014 (59)
William Lock of Norbury; his sale, Sotheby's, London 3-7 May 1821;Marianne (Lady) Ford; thence by descent
Unsigned; no inscription
Techniques and materials
The white highlighting is used skilfully to catch the sunlight on the near corner of the building
The Villa Madama, on Monte Mario to the north of the Vatican, was originally designed about 1518 by Raphael for Pope Clement VII in emulation of the villas of ancient Rome described by Pliny the Younger. After the artist's death in 1520 the building was completed by his pupils.
Related Paintings
P56 Rome from the Villa Madama, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection and other versions
Related Works by Other Artists
Joseph Farington, Sketchbook (1763), Victoria & Albert Museum, P.72-1921, includes a close copy of the present drawing but without the figure.
Critical commentary
Almost certainly a preparatory study for P56 Rome from the Villa Madama, painted for the Earl of Dartmouth in 1753. The figure engaged in drawing is likely to refer to Wilson himself and his known practice of sketching en plein air. This is supported by J.T. Smith's statement of 1828 about Richard Ford's collection of Wilsons: 'The same gentleman has also many of Wilson's finest drawings from nature, which he principally made when studying at Rome; one of which is particularly interesting, since it contains Wilson's own figure, seated on the ground in his bag-wig, making a drawing of Raffaelle's villa.' (see Bibliography below).
Smith 1828, vol.1, p. 138; Ford 1951, pp. 56-57, pl. 38; WGC, p. 219, pl. 108a; Solkin, 1982, pp. 163-64, 184-85; Walpole Society 1998-I, p. 71, RF 75; Lord 2009, p. 15, repr; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 248
Slight spotting overall, especially noticeable in the large void area of the sky.