Head of a Capuchin Monk

Head of a Capuchin Monk
Head of a Capuchin Monk
Head of a Capuchin Monk
Leicester Museum & Art Gallery, Leicestershire, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Head of a Capuchin Monk
1752 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 48.4 x 38 cm
Imperial: 19 1/8 x 15 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
BI 1853 (148 - Study of a Head, lent Earl of Wicklow), though this may have been P38, Head of an old Man; London. J.A. Tooth Galleries 1951 (no. 1, lent D.J. Lacey); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (64); Tercentenary 2014 (54)
Painted for Ralph Howard (Viscount Wicklow from 1785); Earls of Wicklow; perhaps 'A Head of St Jerome - Wilson' mentioned in an undated inventory (pre-1820) though this may refer to P38 Head of an old Man; sold with the contents of Shelton Abbey, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, Sotheby's London, 23 October 1950 (1584 - Head of a Monk by Paggi; bt Father D.J. Lucey; Sotheby's 1 December 1954 (145) bt Leger; bt Leicester Museum & Art Gallery
Unsigned; inscribed verso (see 'Verso Inscriptions')
Verso inscriptions
Kate Lowry has noted: Inscribed in black ink on verso of lining canvas 'Ricardus Wilson f. Romae 1752'. Possibly copied from the reverse of the original canvas, otherwise unsigned and undated
Related Drawings
D161 Life-size Head of a Man (Head of an Italian), Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Related Paintings
P38 Head of an old Man, Private Collection
Related Works by Other Artists
Anton Raphael Mengs, Portrait of a Capuchin Monk, c.1752-53, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen - Neue Pinakothek, Munich (inv. no. 554)
Critical commentary
One of two heads (see also P38) painted vaguely in the manner of Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1683-1754), who became Director of the Venetian Academy in 1750, the year of Wilson's arrival in Venice. Prints after his head studies, rich in chiaroscuro, were eagerly acquired by collectors from England.
Ford May 1951, pp. 165-66, fig. 27; WGC, p. 156, pl. 10a; Solkin 1982, p. 181; Clark & Bowron 1985, p. 255 under cat. 165; Roettgen 1999, vol. 2, p. 118, fig. II-8; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 58-59, fig. 51
More Information
Finished before the 14 November 1752, the date of Wilson's account for this and the other Wicklow pictures. The price was 12 scudi, 3 paoli (approximately £3)
Kate Lowry has noted: Glue-relined. All original turnover edges removed at time of lining. Present lining turnovers and edges of original canvas are covered by blue paper tape, painted black, so ground not easily visible. Lining appears to be early 20th century. Four member stretcher not original. Original canvas is very loose simple weave (about 6 threads per sq.cm. each way, similar to the canvas used for P51. Colour of ground not established, but painting has a brown underpaint layer the tone and colour of which vary across the painting. The paint in the beard and highlights around the man's head is quite brushy. Interestingly the artist has placed the light highlight at the right to delineate the side of head against the background, rather in the way he would normally draw the sky down to the horizon in his later landscapes. Very unlike Wilson's normal style of portraiture, so possibly a copy after a painting he saw in Rome rather than taken from an actual sitter. The painting is covered with a glossy varnish. Under UV light old scratch damages in the man's forehead are visible and these are retouched. Otherwise the painting is in good condition with no damages. Minor cracks in the man's habit below his ear at the right and in the lower right of his habit.