The River Dee near Eaton Hall

The River Dee near Eaton Hall
The River Dee near Eaton Hall
The River Dee near Eaton Hall
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The River Dee near Eaton Hall
c.1759-60 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 54 x 88.6 cm
Imperial: 21 1/4 x 35 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
The view is from east of Eaton Hall, near Eccleston, Cheshire, perhaps at the Crook of Dee, near the Aldford Road. According to J.S. Howson (see Bibliography) it is 'seen from a well-known point of view not very far below the point where the tributary [perhaps the Coddington Brook] joins the main river.' The Dee extends from the left foreground to the centre middle distance and is bordered on both sides by trees and bushes. At a bend in the middle distance there is a cottage and in a field to the left, cows are grazing, one of which is being milked. A tree in the right foreground extends its branches nearly halfway across the picture. The direction seems to be downstream, towards the north-west, Chester and the distant hills of Wales. The mood is one of evening.
Probably Society of Artists, 21 April-5 May 1760 (74 - Ditto [A small Landskip], the Banks of the River Dee); BI 1814 (136/139 - View on the River Dee); Manchester 1857 (Modern Masters, 165 - The Dee, near Eaton); London International Exhibition 1862 (104); Wrexham 1876 (266); Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool on loan 1934-36; Hull 1936 (66 - added after the opening of the exhibition and lent by Archdeacon Howson); Birmingham 1948-49 (5); London 1949 (4); RSA Exhibition of Exhibitions 1951 (4); London, Tate Gallery & The Hague, Mauritshuis 1971, Shock of Recognition: The Landscape of English Romanticism and the Dutch seventeenth-century School (50); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (83); National Gallery, May-September 2013, Masterpieces from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts (unnumbered)
Painted for Sir Richard Grosvenor, later 1st Earl Grosvenor; by descent, either at Grosvenor House, London or Eaton Hall, Cheshire; presented 1874 by the 1st Duke of Westminster to Dr J.S. Howson, Dean of Chester; thence by descent; purchased 1937 from the Howson family through Wildenstein & Co., 147 New Bond Street, London W.1.
Signed in italic capitals, lower right corner: R.W.
The composition appears to be the first depiction of 'public' British scenery, as opposed to private estates, executed after Wilson's return from Italy. Writers from Elizabethan times, including Spenser and Milton, referred to an ancient tradition ascribing divine qualities to the Dee, prophetic for the fortunes of England and Wales, lying either side of it. Eaton Hall was the ancestral seat of Sir Richard Grosvenor and in a modern form is currently that of his descendant, the 7th Duke of Westminster.
Related Drawings
D354 The Banks of the River Dee near Eaton Hall Cheshire, Art Institute of Chicago, Leonora Hall Gurley Collection
Related Prints
E25 Thomas Morris after Wilson, The Banks of the River Dee near Eaton, Cheshire, The British Museum & other impressions
E71/1 John Young after Wilson, View on the River Dee, near Eaton Hall, The British Museum
See 'Links' tab
Related Paintings
P111 The Valley of the Dee with Chester in the Distance, The National Gallery, London
Critical commentary
This was probably the picture exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1760. It is signed with an unusual form of Wilson's signature, which may suggest an early date. Wilson has used Cuyp as a stylistic model for some aspects of the work but takes inspiration from Claudean river variations, e.g. The Flight into Egypt (1663, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) which he must have seen at the Palazzo Colonna in Rome, and which was also used as a basis for P66 Landscape Capriccio on the Via Aemilia .
Catalogue 1814, p. 19; J. Young, A Catalogue of the Pictures at Grosvenor House, London, 1821, p. 5, no. 12, repr.; Hazlitt 1843-44, vol. 1, p. xl, no. 12; R.& S. Redgrave, A Century of Painters, 1866, I, p. 103; J.S. Howson, 'The Dee, its Aspects and its History', V, Art Journal, vol. 35, June 1873, p. 164; Westminster 1874; Grant 1926-47, I, p. 58; A.C. Sewter, Burlington Magazine, LXXVIII, 1941, pp. 9-11, repr.; Bury 1947, pp. 47, 65, pl. 37; B. Ford, Country Life, vol. 104, 1948, p. 1055; A.C. Sewter et al., Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings and Miniatures in the Barber Insitute of Fine Arts, 1952, p. 120-21, repr.; WGC, pp. 89, 119, 173-74, pl. 34a; Solkin 1978, pp. 407-8, fig. 3; Solkin 1982, pp. 197-98
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
Location featured in work
The River Dee, Cheshire.
More Information
Even if it was not the picture exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1760, P86 must have been painted about that year, which is also the date of P86A (Petworth House, National Trust). In 1821 John Young recorded P86 as hanging in the 'Anti Room' at Grosvenor House. The artist was distantly related to Sir Richard Grosvenor through the Mostyn family.
The original canvas is simple weave linen with about twelve threads per square centimetre. This has been paste-lined onto a much finer linen canvas probably in the mid to late 19th century. The stretcher has four members, 3 1/8 in. wide, and square mortice joints with provision for keying out. This is likely to have been acquired at the time of relining. Minor cracks to the paint surface near top edge and centre sky suggest the original stretcher had a vertical cross-member and members approx 1 3/4 in. wide. The original turnovers were not removed at the time of lining and are intact, apart from some tack damage. As there do not appear to be any damages to the original canvas it was probably relined to improve the attachment and canvas tension rather than for repair. The original turnovers are covered with a commercially-prepared ground, grey in colour. There are some small pentimenti in the tree branches at the upper right. Cleaned and revarnished by Holder in December 1937. The varnish is now yellowed. The paint layer has a fine overall drying cracking which is stable and some slight tenting at the top right possibly due to shrinkage during lining. A matt retouched loss is visible at the lower right.
Updated by Compiler
2022-01-18 00:00:00