Lake Avernus - III

Lake Avernus - III
Lake Avernus - III
Lake Avernus - III
Courtesy of the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry KBE
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Lake Avernus - III
1752-53 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 61 x 83.8 cm
Imperial: 24 x 33 in.
Wilson Online Reference
Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, Art Treasures from Country Houses, 1952 (35); Vienna, British Council, 1979; Kenwood 1980 (72)
Recorded in an undated printed picture inventory at Boughton as Landscape with Figures in the Picture Closet at Montagu House, Whitehall c.1800
Unsigned, no inscription
Techniques and materials
The figures seem early and substantial in style. The trees are flattish and differentiated in colour, with bubbly silhouettes, suggesting an early date and the influence of Gaspard Dughet. The clouds are delicately painted and understated.
David Solkin has argued that the true subject of the picture is Lake Nemi, rather than Avernus.
See 'Links' tab
Related Works by Other Artists
Gaspard Dughet, Ideal Landscape, c.1658-60, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (Accession no. 596)
Critical commentary
Constable noted that the silhouetting of the forms and the treatment of the foliage indicated that this was an early version of the subject, perhaps painted in Italy. The arrangement of the hills and the architecture are based on Gaspard Dughet's Ideal Landscape, Glasgow Museums.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
226, erroneously recorded as 22b by WGC
Andrew Mackay, Catalogue of the Pictures in Montagu House belonging to the Dukes of Buccleuch, 1898, p. 68 (226); WGC, pp. 82, 195, pl. 70a; Solkin 1981, p. 410, pl. 24 (as Lake Nemi).
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
More Information
Note the small seated figure with their back to the spectator, silhouetted at the centre and shown drawing. The man in the foreground with red hair has a bent neck and the woman is in a madonna-like position, holding a baby protectively. Also note the large scale of the rock at the right - over seven feet high.
In a carved and gilded frame. Prominent craquelure exacerbated by old relining but under UV the picture structure is sound, though the work has been cleaned in the sky and at intervals around the foliage. White underpainting in the lower half and dark in the upper suggest that the canvas may have been inverted or has been reused. Alternatively the darker upper half could be the result of discoloured old varnish.
Kate Lowry has noted: Original canvas is medium-weight simple weave. Canvas has been glue-lined and the original turnover edges are missing. The existing stretcher probably dates from the relining treatment The lining has caused complete flattening of any paint texture and is possibly responsible for the severe drying cracks which have formed throughout the painting. The original ground is pale in tone. There is a thick discoloured yellow varnish over all. Under UV the sky and edges of the foliage, together with the distant mountain and tower have been partially cleaned, whilst the dark foreground and foliage masses are covered with a thick layer of older varnish.
Updated by Compiler
2020-05-05 00:00:00