Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
c.1769? (undated)
Black and white chalk on pale brown paper
Metric: 291 x 408 mm
Imperial: 11 7/16 x 16 1/16 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
A river with a boat on it runs through the foreground, turning away at the left. From the right a tributary leads in, crossed by a bridge and flowing into a low weir at the centre middle distance. On the right bank stands a group of tall trees and across the river on the left are wooded hills with a mountain rising behind. In the centre foreground is a group of three figures, one seated and another gesticulating towards the boat.
Paul Sandby; John Ruskin; Ruskin Collection, Reference Series 118
Faintly inscribed right lower corner, perhaps by Paul Sandby: Arpinum
Techniques and materials
There may be touches of sepia wash in places
Collectors' marks
[1] Lower left corner: Paul Sandby (Lugt 2112)
The Volscian hill town of Arpinum lies in the province of Frosinone, 70 miles south-east of Rome. It was quite possibly visited by Wilson on his way from Rome to Naples. Marcus Tullius Cicero was born on 3 January 106 BC at the family home just outside Arpinum.
Related Drawings
D371 Study for 'Cicero and his Friends', Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Related Paintings
P162 Cicero and his two Friends, Atticus and Quintus, at his Villa at Arpinum, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
P162A Cicero with his Friend Atticus and Brother Quintus at his Villa at Arpinum, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
P162B Cicero, Atticus and Quintus at his Villa at Arpinum, Private Collection, London
Critical commentary
This drawing may be linked with Wilson's paintings of Cicero and his friends at Arpinum (see 'Related Paintings'). However the inscribed identification of the location may be a later one, perhaps even by Sandby.
John Ruskin, who owned the drawing and gave it to the University of Oxford, wrote of it: ' Sketch by Richard Wilson, in English [sic] lowlands, given to show the state of landscape art just before Turner broke into it with a new light. Wilson is a thoroughly great painter, and this drawing is not to cast contempt upon him, but upon the kind of teaching which landscapists received in the eighteenth century. Nor is the sketch given as faultful in manner; on the contrary, it is wholly exemplary in manner: it is only faultful in representation of fact, not one of the lines here pretending to represent trees rendering truly any one fact of stem or foliage, but only recording for the painter the position of masses which had interested him, and out of which he felt himself able to compose an impressive picture. [ ... ] It is entirely artistic, and, in the eighteenth-century import of the word, gentlemanly in the highest degree, and this quality is one rarely to be obtained in the nineteenth century. [Cook & Wedderburn, Vol. 21, The Ruskin Art Collection - Rudimentary Series, 1878, p. 288, no. 276]
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Cook & Wedderburn, vol. 21, pp. 38 & 288; Solkin 1978, pp. 409-10, pl. 25b; Brown 1982, pp. 666-67, no. 1903
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
The sheet is torn and repaired at the lower left corner and at the centre of the left margin.
Updated by Compiler
2019-11-01 00:00:00