The Temple of Clitumnus

The Temple of Clitumnus
The Temple of Clitumnus
The Temple of Clitumnus
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Temple of Clitumnus
c.1755 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 47.7 x 74 cm
Imperial: 18 3/4 x 29 1/8 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
Wilson is said to have described a version of this view as 'the scenery taken from the long famed [Temple of] Clitumnus, near the once mystic temple of Juno which I have herein restored from its state in ruins, as seen near the source gently cascading into the streamlet, from whence flows that classic river. The period of time described produces the effects of those lights, &c. which succeeds the dawn of day, interspersed with the vapours and subdued tints that accompany the morning atmosphere.' (Christie's sale catalogue, 28 June 1814 (82))
Brighton 1920; London 1925 (30)
John Allnutt, sold Christie's June 1863 (476) [...] Captain Richard Ford, sold Christie's 14 June 1929 (13), bt Urqhuart (230 guineas); David 1st Baron Davies (1880-1944), Llandinam, Montgomeryshire; acquired by the National Library of Wales from his executors
Unsigned; no inscription
Verso inscriptions
[1] Smudged white chalk inscription on lining canvas, upper left: ... Feby 10/66
[2] Illegible white chalk inscription on lining canvas, upper right
[3] Faint white chalk inscription on lining canvas, lower left: 332N [?]
[4] Upper horizontal stretcher bar, right end, sale stencil, black ink: 446 FY [or EY]
[5] Middle horizontal stretcher bar, white chalk, partly illegible: Ju ... 4-29
[6] Middle horizontal stretcher bar right end, white chalk: 'IL' encircled
[1] Old torn label on upper horizontal stretcher bar centre, handwritten: From John Allnutt ... June 1863; printed: R. WILSON | 476 THE TEMPLE OF CLITUMNUS beneath a wooded bank, with | peasants and cattle on the bank of a stream beneath a brilliant | sky. A work of the highest quality
[2] Middle horizontal bar of stretcher, left end, inverted: 49725
[3] Upper left corner of frame: modern museum label
[4] Upper member of frame, centre, old handwritten label, black ink: The Temple of Clitumnus | R. Wilson. Purchased at | Christies 14.6.29. | From the collection of | Captain Richard Ford | (see catalogue in London File)
[5] Right vertical member of frame, upper end, old handwritten label: Lord Davies | Llandinam | Loan
[6] Right vertical member of frame, lower end, modern museum label: Llandinam 42
[7] Lower horizontal member of frame, centre, faint old label:
Christie's | June 1863 [?]
The setting is a temple supposedly once the sanctuary of the god, Clitumnus, near Spoleto in Umbria, which was converted into a Christian church in the 4th century A.D. It stands beside the source of the river also known as Clitumnus.
Related Prints
E8 Giuseppe Vasi after Wilson, Veduta del Tempio, e Fiume del Clitunno nello Stato presente, The British Museum
See 'Links' tab
Related Works by Other Artists
[1] J.M.W. Turner, Wilson Sketchbook, 1796-97, p. pp. 78-79, Tate, London
Critical commentary
The classical associations of the site made the temple a popular destination for Grand Tourists, and Wilson must have visited there on his journey from Venice to Rome with William Lock of Norbury and Thomas Jenkins in late 1751. No outdoor drawings of the site by Wilson survive but an etching by Giuseppe Vasi (E8) reproducing a finished drawing by him, was published in Rome in 1753 and must represent his earliest known treatment of the subject. Given the provenance it seems allowable that this is a work by Wilson, albeit very damaged by later treatments.
Bury 1947, pl. 31; WGC, p. 197, pl. 75b (version 1)
More Information
The site was later celebrated by Byron in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812), canto iv, stanzas lxvi-lxviii.
Canvas size: 46 x 72.5 cm. Dimensions framed: 71 x 94 cm. Already in Constable's time (1953), 'much rubbed and otherwise in poor condition.' Kate Lowry has noted: Simple weave linen canvas glue relined onto similar weight linen. Original turnovers removed at time of lining. Ground is pale grey. Paint film generally in poor condition because of overheating during the lining process. The pitted and crizzled paint gives the work a blurred appearance. Under UV light it is apparent that wear in the sky to the left of the trees has been extensively retouched along with the margins at top and left edges. The remainder of the painting is free of retouches.