A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - I)

A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - I)
A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - I)
A Summer Evening  ('On the Arno' - I)
Private Collection, Scotland
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782) and Studio
A Summer Evening ('On the Arno' - I)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 95.9 x 128.3 cm
Imperial: 37 3/4 x 50 1/2 in.
Private Collection, Scotland
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
An Italianate rural landscape, with a high foreground overlooking a wide river with two trees and a fallen trunk to the left and two boys fishing with a seated girl and her baby to the right. In the middle distance is a broad stretch of water with a rocky cliff in the background to the right, surmounted by a castle. There is a shallow bank to the left, with hazy plains and mountains in the distance. This imaginative scene is framed on the left by graceful tree trunks, which punctuate the sky. The delicate light, conveyed through soft colouring, is reflected in the river and enhances the sense of space.
Bought 1803
Techniques and materials
Generalised details, including the mountains. Much swirly impasto. The figures are well resolved and probably by another artist since they are too much so for Wilson himself. Conversely the figures in the boat are relatively unresolved.
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Critical commentary
Wilson spent much of the 1750s in Italy and produced paintings of Italian scenes for the rest of his life. However, he also painted views of his native Wales and it is sometimes difficult to be sure, as with this painting, whether he meant to evoke the Arno, the Po, the Tiber or the Dee valley. The composition is similar to that found in many of his views, combining topographical detail, often studied in North Wales and Cheshire, with some artistic licence. There are many surviving versions of this picture - an archetypal 'good breeder'. The right hand tree is reminiscent of Jacob van Ruisdael and more prominent than in some other versions. The cliff on the right protrudes into the centre more than in some other versions. The birds in the sky tend to confirm Wilson's own hand.
In a gilded neo-classical frame. Kate Lowry has noted: Oil on canvas, probably lined; ground probably pale grey. Painting in sound condition with minor paint losses near upper edge. Varnish somewhat discoloured. Style of figures is unlike Wilson but the rest of the composition looks to be by his hand. Possibly a studio version by Wilson with figures by one of his students.