Classical Landscape with Venus, Adonis and Cupids

This item is active and ready to use
Classical Landscape with Venus, Adonis and Cupids
Classical Landscape with Venus, Adonis and Cupids
Classical Landscape with Venus, Adonis and Cupids
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Classical Landscape with Venus, Adonis and Cupids
c.1754-55 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 62.9 x 74.9 cm
Imperial: 24 3/4 x 29 1/2 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
Rome 1911 (11); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (70)
Oldfield Bowles; by descent; bt mid 19th century by H.A.J. Munro of Novar; Christie's 6 April 1878 (61); bt Victoria & Albert Museum
Inscribed on plinth lower right: RW
Techniques and materials
David Solkin has commented that perhaps because Wilson did not wait long enough for each layer to dry, or through use of an unstable medium, the picture has undergone extensive cracking, a problem that recurs in several oils of the period.
The source is Ovid's Metamorphoses. The ancient ruin on the right is the Sedia di Diavolo, which stands near the Via Nomentana in the Roman Campagna and appears in several other Wilson landscapes including a drawing in the V&A sketchbook of 1752.
Related Works by Other Artists
Claude Lorrain, Flight into Egypt, 1639. Notre Dame University Gallery
Francesco Zuccarelli Diana appearing to Endymion, The Royal Collection
Critical commentary
One of the earliest examples of Wilson's use of the Ovidian text that was to supply him with many later historical subjects, e.g. P90 The Destruction of Niobe's Children Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven and other versions. The influence of Claude is marked, especially the palette of the foliage and background of the landscape. Solkin has compared the design with Claude's Flight into Egypt, 1639, Notre Dame University Art Gallery, which was still in Rome in the 18th century. The figures were attributed to Cipriani by Christie's in the Munro of Novar sale catalogue, 6 April 1878.
WGC, pp.103, 118; Solkin 1982, pp. 186-187
Kate Lowry has noted: Oil on plain weave canvas, medium weight. Glue relined. Stretcher size: 646 x 761 mm. Painting size 24 ½ x 29 ins. Top and bottom turnovers survive at face of stretcher, and these are unprimed. Ground is a pink/brown, even coating. Warm colour of ground gives a very red tone to the whole composition especially in figures and middle ground. Wide and extensive drying cracks present in foreground. In the trees against the sky there is no obvious reserve to the foliage, but there is a slight reserve visible around the lower branches. Foliage in middle ground quite sloppily painted. The work has a good provenance via Oldfield Bowles. Not signed or dated although the letters 'R' and 'M' are present lower right and have been construed as a monogram in the past.