The River Dee near Eaton Hall

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The River Dee near Eaton Hall
The River Dee near Eaton Hall
The River Dee near Eaton Hall
Petworth House, National Trust
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The River Dee near Eaton Hall
Oil on canvas
Metric: 64.8 x 83.8 cm
Imperial: 25 1/2 x 33 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
The view is from east of Eaton Hall, near Eccleston, Cheshire, perhaps at the Crook of Dee, near the Aldford Road. The Dee extends from the left foreground to the centre middle distance and is bordered on both sides by trees and bushes. At a bend in the middle distance there is a cottage and in a field to the left, cows are grazing, one of which is being milked by a woman in red and blue. A tree in the right foreground extends its branches nearly halfway across the picture and at its base a young man and woman are resting. The direction seems to be downstream, towards the north-west, Chester and the distant hills of Wales. The mood is one of evening.
Possibly Society of Artists 21 April-5 May 1760 (74 - A small landskip, the Banks of the Dee); BI 1814 (215/220 - Landscape); Suffolk Street Gallery 1834 (76); Wildenstein, London, Loan Exhibition of Pictures and Works of Art from Petworth House, 1954 (25); Agnews London, English Pictures from National Trust Houses 1965 (7); Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Trésors des Châteaux Britanniques appartenant aux National Trusts de Grande Bretagne, Europalia 1973 (69); Royal Society of Arts, Adelphi, London, undated (360)
A bill made out by 'Wm. Dormer' to George, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837) for five paintings (£260), dated 15 November 1802, included a 'Landscape by Wilson', which may be this or one of the other pictures by or attributed to Wilson at Petworth today. A Norwich framer's label suggests that this picture was acquired from a Norfolk collection; by descent to the 3rd Lord Leconfield; accepted by HM Treasury as part payment of death duties, 1957; accepted by the National Trust on loan from HM Treasury, 21 February 1957; formal transfer of ownership by HM Treasury to the National Trust, 20 September 1990
Signed and dated lower centre: RW (monogram, the R reversed) 1760
Techniques and materials
There are thick impasto reinforcements to the edges of the clouds round the roseate area. The figures on the right are meticulously painted as are those on a much smaller scale behind.
Verso inscriptions
Frame inscribed:
[1] In white chalk: 127;
[2] In pencil: 360;
[3] In pencil: Church Room | over DiRm ? Doo;
[4] In bold white paint: 360
[1] Stretcher has blind stamp: I PEEL/LINER
[2] Paper label:

[3] Printed label on frame: Jeremiah & Wm Freeman, CARVERS, GILDERS & LOOKING-GLASS MANUFACTURERS | WHOLESALE & RETAIL | NO. 2 LONDON [LANE], NORWICH ... [followed by details of what supplied and performed]
[4] Typed label on frame: 'To Royal Society of Arts, Adelphi, W.C.2 | Richard Wilson 360 River | Landscape | From Petworth House, | Petworth, Sussex
The composition appears to be the first depiction of 'public' British scenery, as opposed to private estates, executed after Wilson's return from Italy. Writers from Elizabethan times, including Spenser and Milton, referred to an ancient tradition ascribing divine qualities to the Dee, prophetic for the fortunes of England and Wales, lying either side of it. Eaton Hall was the ancestral seat of Sir Richard Grosvenor and in a modern form is currently that of his descendant, the 7th Duke of Westminster.
Related Drawings
D354 The Banks of the River Dee near Eaton Hall Cheshire, Art Institute of Chicago, Leonora Hall Gurley Collection
Related Prints
E25 Thomas Morris after Wilson, The Banks of the River Dee near Eaton, Cheshire, The British Museum & other impressions
E71/1 John Young after Wilson, View on the River Dee, near Eaton Hall, The British Museum
See 'Links' tab
Related Paintings
P111 The Valley of the Dee with Chester in the Distance, The National Gallery, London
Critical commentary
This, rather than P86, may have been the work exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1760. W.G. Constable noted that this version emphasises the effect of evening light more than P86. The clouds are more heavily massed to the left and there are numerous differences of detail, most noticeably the pair of lovers in the foreground. The signature is unusually cursive and particularly prominent at the lower centre.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
352 Phillips Petworth 1835
360 Chrippes 1837; Knox 1856; Collins Baker 1920
197 HM Treasury
189 National Trust
20 NT Guides, North Gallery, 1973-90
Catalogue 1814, p. 22; Phillips Petworth 1835 - 'Ante Room to the Square Dining Room 352 River Scene Wilson'; Chrippes Inventory 1837 (360); Knox 1856, p. 39, no. 360 - River Scene, North Gallery; Collins Baker 1920, p.135 (360); WGC, pp. 71, 87, 119, 174, pl. 34b; St John Gore, 'Three Centuries of Discrimination', Apollo, vol. 105, no. 183, May 1977, pp. 354 (fig. 25) & 356; Solkin 1978, p. 408; Solkin 1982, pp.197-98 under 83
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
Location featured in work
The River Dee, Cheshire
More Information
Jeremiah Freeman (1763-1823) set up his framing business at 9, London Lane, Norwich in 1790. He took his son, William Freeman (1784-1877) as an apprentice in 1800. Their partnership traded as J. & W. Freeman by 1809 but was dissolved in 1818 (London Gazette, 22 February 1823), although the business continued to be listed in trade directories as a partnership until 1821. Jeremiah Freeman was described as an ‘eminent carver and gilder’ in his obituary notice in the Ipswich Journal for 15 March 1823. William Freeman was Sheriff of Norwich in 1842 and Mayor in 1843. (British Picture Framemakers, 1600-1950, National Portrait Gallery website, 2007+ (P)
Mounted in a frame dating from 1809-21 (see More Information above). Cleaned by Henry Restra Bolton, December 1854; cleaned by Brealey, 1952. Generally good condition; small areas of slight bituminous damage by figures and by the cow, left. There are thick impasto reinforcements to the edges of the clouds round the roseate area. According to Kate Lowry, as seen from the front, it seems to be glue lined. The frame is gilt plaster, 19th century.
Updated by Compiler
2022-01-18 00:00:00