The West Belvedere at Hadrian's Villa…

The West Belvedere at Hadrian's Villa…
The West Belvedere at Hadrian's Villa…
The West Belvedere at Hadrian's Villa…
City & County of Swansea: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Collection
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The West Belvedere at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli (Part of the Ruins of Hadrian's Villa)
c.1752-53 (undated)
Graphite and stump on light brown or white wash-prepared paper
Metric: 239 x 212 mm
Imperial: 9 7/16 x 8 5/16 in.
Accession Number
GV DF 2071
Wilson Online Reference
The featured building is part of Hadrian's Villa - the West Belvedere - and beyond it to the north-east are the Sabine Hills. Above the original Roman brick arcade stands a modern stuccoed farm dwelling, to which access is gained via the wooden staircase visible inside the arcade.
London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (31); Swansea 1999; Tercentenary 2014 (36)
Presented by John Deffett Francis, between 1876 and 1901
Unsigned; no inscription
Techniques and materials
The composition is drawn over a pale brown opaque wash applied with horizontal brush-strokes.
Collectors' marks
[1] Line-wash paper mount, lower right centre: John Deffett Francis (Lugt 1444)
[2] Lower right corner: John Deffett Francis (Lugt 1446)?
Verso inscriptions
[1] Wilson
[2] Initials of Joseph Farington (Lugt 1453)
The Roman structure was enlarged during the 16th century with a farmhouse erected above it by the architect Sebastiano Soliardi. In the 18th century the rediscovery of Hadrian's Villa was a source of fascination for archaeologists and artists in search of picturesque subject matter.
Related Paintings
P138 Tate, London
P138A Private Collection, North America
P138B Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Related Works by Other Artists
Francis Towne, The West Belvedere at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli watercolour, 1781, Hovingham Hall
Critical commentary
Wilson here seems deliberately to have featured a humble building quite marginal to the main parts of Hadrian's Villa. A rapidly executed plein-air drawing, this was very probably made at the same time as that of the so-called Villa of Maecenas, The British Museum (1881,0212.12). The angle, height and details of the buildings all suggest that the present drawing was made from the life. The right section is also more naturalistic yet more sketchy than the other versions. The figure and shadow may be an afterthought but the drawing of part of the wheels or machinery and steps inside the lower half of the building is unusually detailed, as is that of the temporary support propping up the arch.
WGC, p. 201, pl.81b; Solkin 1982, pp. 161-62; W.L. Macdonald and J.A. Pinto, Hadrian's Villa and its Legacy, 1995, p .264; Themes and Variations 1999, p. 28 repr; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 229
Kate Lowry has noted: Dimensions of mount: 312 x 282 mm. Support: White paper washed with a thin pale brown tone. The white of the paper is visible only in a few spots where the wash is rubbed. The paper has been backed at a later date with a pale grey paper and surrounded by a line-wash paper mount, so the reverse of the original paper is not visible. No watermarks observed. The pale grey paper backing is marked in black ink 'Wilson' with the initials of Joseph Farington below. The line-wash paper mount is stamped centre bottom edge with an oval collector's mark probably that of John Deffett Francis. There is also another oval collector's mark impressed in the lower right corner of the original paper which is slightly larger than the one at the lower edge of the mount and about 10mm wide with a double outline. Unfortunately the initials are not legible now.
Medium: Pencil and graphite with stump. No white or black chalk present.
Condition: The edges of the original paper are cleanly cut. Possibly an old crease damage retouched at upper left corner. Otherwise no damages visible. It is possible that a larger circular window was originally drawn below the present small window in the gable end.