The Hermitage, Villa Madama

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The Hermitage, Villa Madama
The Hermitage, Villa Madama
The Hermitage, Villa Madama
Petworth House, National Trust
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Hermitage, Villa Madama
Dated 1760
Oil on canvas
Metric: 59.7 x 81.3 cm
Imperial: 23 1/2 x 32 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
In a shady glade, a lane runs across the foreground and on the left a man and a woman greet a friar. A rustic building is at the centre, overhung by trees, while to the right on a gentle slope, a line of trees and a distant figure are silhouetted against the sunset sky, where birds are flying.
BI 1814 (167/171 - The Hermitage); BI 1824 (148 - Gardens of the Villa Madama, lent Earl of Egremont)
A bill of £260 made out by 'Wm. Dormer' to George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont for five paintings and dated 15 November 1802, included a 'Landscape by Wilson' which may be this picture or one of the three other paintings by or attributed to Wilson at Petworth today; by descent to John Wyndham, 6th Lord Leconfield and 1st Lord Egremont (1920-1972); accepted by H.M. Treasury in lieu of death duties 1956; accepted by National Trust on loan from H.M. Treasury 1957; ownership formally transferred from H.M. Treasury to the National Trust, 20 September 1990
Signed and dated on horizontal log lower right: RW [monogram, R reversed] 1760
The composition was called The Hermitage when exhibited in 1814 but The Villa Madama when exhibited in 1824 and when engraved by William Byrne in 1765. The inscription of Byrne's print added that the place was known as 'il Teatro', since Giovanni Battista Guarini's pastoral tragicomedy, Il Pastor Fido [1590] had been performed there. From this the libretto of Handel's eponymous opera was derived (1712, revived 1734).
Related Prints
E14 William Byrne after Wilson A View in the Villa Madama, near Rome, called Il Teatro, 1765, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven (B1984.21.428) and other impressions
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Critical commentary
This composition was clearly one of Wilson's 'good breeders' as at least five authentic versions are known.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Bolton List 1847: 13; Collins Baker 1920: 625; National Trust: 190
Catalogue 1814, p. 20; Collins Baker 1920, p. 135; WGC, pp. 71, 87, 202 pl. 82a
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
More Information
This painting differs from P91A, the Hagley Hall version, in details of trees and foliage, and slightly in the figures.
Conserved by Henry Restra Bolton (1792-1871), 1847; cleaned by John Brealey, 1952. Thinness of blue in the sky still persists and there is considerable wear in the centre; large damage in trees to right; areas of small bituminous cracks. The nineteenth-century neo-classical frame is badly distressed and faded.
Kate Lowry has noted: Glue relined. Old 'Y' shaped damage to paint and canvas filled and badly retouched upper right corner. Detail of black and white birds in sky is good. Blue of sky somewhat worn over white underpaint. Figure group at left foreground is good. Extensive bituminous craquelure in middle ground which is very dark.
Updated by Compiler
2021-09-03 00:00:00