Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752…

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Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752…
Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752…
Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752…
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 48: Ninfa and Norba
Black chalk on white paper
Metric: 188 x 130 mm (volume: 203 x 143 mm)
Imperial: 8 x 5 5/8 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
View of far-off buildings with a square tower to the left (Ninfa), seen on a plain before mountains with a town on a peak in the centre (Norba) and other buildings further up in the distance
Bt about 1922 from Miss Alice J. Bowles
Inscribed in Wilson's hand, upper right of image: '1 Nimpha 2 Norbe'
Numbered, upper right corner: 48
Ninfa was a medieval town near Sermoneta abandoned by the 18th century on account of the encroachment of marshland and prevalence of malaria. In 1765 the former town hall was transformed into a barn by Francesco Caetani, Duke of Sermoneta, and Pope Pius VI started a reclamation of the marshes, though the project was abandoned. The garden at Ninfa and its surroundings languished as a neglected part of the Caetani domain until the 20th century, when the estate was renovated and the garden was transformed. Norba, an ancient town of Latium, is situated 1 mile northwest of the modern town of Norma, on the western edge of the Volscian Mountains. The town is perched above a precipitous cliff with an extensive view over the Pomptine Marshes.
Related Prints
E60/30 John Whessell after Wilson Studies & Designs: Distant View of Ninfa and Norba, The British Museum
Critical commentary
Wilson's commitment to landscape made soon after his arrival in Rome in late 1751 initiated a sustained burst of activity as a draughtsman which was to gain momentum over the next few years. One major piece of evidence for the seriousness with which he took his new career is provided by the pages of this surviving sketchbook from 1752. Although it contains a number of rapid sketches from nature and the antique, most of its leaves are filled with imaginary essays in landscape design, usually incorporating classical themes such as antique ruins but presented in a rococo manner, and, as noted by Solkin, 'using lazy curving forms and often capricious combinations of architectural motifs in a way that still recalls the works of Zuccarelli.' Increasingly, however, Wilson came to adopt a more naturalistic style.
Solkin 1982, pp. 152, 157
More Information
Only two sketchbooks by Wilson have survived - the present one (D53-D53/81) and D280-D280/33 Italian Sketchbook - Drawings, 1754, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Some discolouration, notably at upper left corner