Tivoli: Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna - I

Tivoli: Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna - I
Tivoli: Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna - I
Tivoli: Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna - I
Private Collection / Photograph Courtesy of Sotheby's
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Tivoli: Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna - I
Oil on canvas
Metric: 104.1 x 130.8 cm
Imperial: 41 x 51 1/2 in.
Private Collection, UK
Wilson Online Reference
This view is from the present Via Quintilio Varro outside the Porta S. Angelo, towards the Grand Cascade. The viewer looks down the gorge of the River Aniene, with the Roman Campagna in the distance. On the cliff to the left are the Temples of the Sibyl or Vesta and the Temple of Tiburtius. In the middle distance an artist sits drawing.
Private Collection, London and Oxfordshire; Sotheby's London, 14 December 2021 (66)
Unsigned; no inscription
Collectors' marks
Inset in upper middle vertical member of stretcher, black seal: JL [?] and crest
Related Prints
E15 William Byrne after Wilson, Tivoli: The Temple of the Sibyl and the Campagna (untitled), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven and other impressions
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Related Works by Other Artists
[1] Adolf Friedrich Harper, View of Tivoli, Schloss Ludwigsburg, Germany
[2] Adolf Friedrich Harper, View of Tivoli, Klassik Stiftung Weimar
[3] Nicolaus Wilhelm Heideloff after Harper, Vue de Tivoli, etching and engraving, 1782, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung
Critical commentary
Wilson is known to have used a version of this composition as a model for his students in Rome to copy. Steffen Egle has noted that two very similar drawings survive and that Adolf Friedrich Harper, one of Wilson's pupils, also painted two variations of the composition, one in Schloss Ludwigsburg and the other in Klassik Stiftung Weimar (Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 269).
More Information
Very few of Wilson's Italian subjects were definitely completed in Italy and most were reworked from previous Italian studies.
Dimensions framed: 121.5 x 147.7 cm (47 7/8 x 58 1/8 in.) Kate Lowry has noted: Viewed in store. The painting has a gilt frame of a style contemporary with the work. Unglazed and not backed. Support: Original canvas is a medium weight simple weave linen and this has been recently relined onto a similar weight canvas using an animal glue adhesive. The original canvas turnovers have been removed, possibly at the time of a previous lining, and the work is now attached to a new stretcher through the new lining turnovers. The lining and its attachment to the stretcher are in good condition. Accessory support: Not original. Dates from recent relining treatment. A seven-member pine stretcher in excellent condition with square mortice joints and provision for keying out. All keys tied. Stretcher not much keyed out. Dimensions of members: 80 mm (w) x 20 mm (t) slightly bevelled at inside edges. Distinguishing marks: A section of timber bearing a wax seal has been removed from an earlier stretcher and embedded in the central member of this new stretcher. It bears the letters 'I' (or 'J') ' L' with a crest above, possibly a dragon. There are no other marks or labels on the stretcher reverse. Two other Sotheby's labels on the frame reverse refer to the Sotheby's December 2021 sale. Ground: A smooth, oil ground, pale pink in colour underlies the whole painting and is particularly visible in the sky and around the tree at the right of composition. The foreground darks are under-painted a deep transparent brown. Paint film: Oil medium. The painting of the sky down to the distant mountains, leaving a ridge of impasto on the horizon, and the reserve of unpainted ground visible alongside the tree trunk and its branches, as well as around the masses of foliage, are typical of Wilson's style of paint application. The foreground figures to the left of centre are better realised than many of Wilson's landscape figures. Retouchings: Under UV light recent retouching over the present varnish film reveals two old damages to the paint and ground, one to the left of the roadside shrine, and the other through the neck of the standing figure of a man in the foreground. There are also minor retouches to drying cracks in centre sky towards the horizon and in the foreground around the rock and fallen logs towards the right of the composition. Apart from these defects the paint film appears to be in good condition. Surface film: The painting looks to have been recently cleaned, revarnished and retouched. The varnish film is in excellent condition. Condition: The work is generally in excellent condition. Conclusion: A very good example of the best of Wilson's work.