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The Trustees of the British Museum
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Samuel William Reynolds after Wilson
1823 (undated)
Mezzotint on steel
Metric: 175 x 224 mm
Imperial: 6 7/8 x 8 13/16 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
Landscape with a group of three figures on the grassy banks of a river, trees and shrubs on the right, a circular ruin in the middle ground on the right and hills in the background
Mrs Frederick Smith, wife of the engraver Frederick Smith (d.1879); bought along with 368 other prints, from E.W. Janson, print dealer, 35 Little Russell Street, London, 1879. (See also E75).
Production details inscribed in pencil lower left below the platemark: 'Rd. Wilson pinxt.' 'S.W. Reynolds sc.'
The exact location of the view is has been much debated and the scene is almost certainly a capriccio centred on the so-called Temple of Venus at Baia near Naples (see Critical commentary below). The marble sarcophagus in the foreground is very much an invention of Wilson's and cannot be considered conventional in form, with its square shape, flat open top and oval decoration.
Related Drawings
D271 Bay of Baiae - Temple of Venus, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Related Prints
E64 William Sherlock after Wilson, River, Sea-Coast and circular Ruin ('Morning'), The British Museum and other impressions
E72/14 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Temple of Venus with Part of the Bay of Baiae, The British Museum and other impressions
E72/40 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Landscape (River, Sea Coast and circular Ruin), The British Museum
E74 Samuel William Reynolds after Wilson, Evening, The British Museum and other impressions
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Related Paintings
P92 An Italian Landscape, Morning (River, Sea Coast and circular Ruin), Private Collection, England
P92A River, Sea Coast and circular Ruin, Private Collection, England
P92B An Italian Landscape, Morning (River, Sea-Coast and circular Ruin), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
Critical commentary
Plate 19 of Gems of Art: Forming a Choice Collection Engraved from Pictures of Acknowledged Excellence, Beauty, & Variety, Painted by Esteemed Masters of All Ages and Countries', published by William Bernard Cooke, 9, Soho Square, in 1824. The composition has been known under several titles, notably The Temple of Venus at Baiae but at first sight the temple does not seem to be the same building as in D271, the drawing by Wilson of this subject in the Victoria & Albert Museum, or in the famous Turner painting of the Bay of Baiae in Tate, London. However, Robin Simon has recently observed that the building is in fact the same (actually baths rather than a temple) but seen from the opposite side, revealing the ruined open aspect of the structure. He further has identified the landscape in the middle distance as resembling the view looking out from the Bay of Pozzuoli and the town of Baia towards Naples - an area much favoured by Wilson.
A. Whitman, Samuel William Reynolds, 1903, p. 122, cat. 463, I; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 283.
Proof before letters. Bound with the rest of the series in the original gilded 19th century leather cover.