The Hermitage, Villa Madama

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The Hermitage, Villa Madama
The Hermitage, Villa Madama
The Hermitage, Villa Madama
Private Collection, Wales / Photograph Courtesy of Sotheby's
title=Credit line
Wilson and Studio
The Hermitage, Villa Madama
Oil on canvas
Metric: 63.8 x 75.8 cm
Imperial: 25 1/4 x 29 13/16 in.
Private Collection, Wales
Wilson Online Reference
In a shady glade, a lane runs across the foreground and on the left a man and a woman greet a friar. A rustic building is at the centre, overhung by trees, while to the right on a gentle slope, a line of trees is silhouetted against the sunset sky.
Paul Panton (1727-1797), Bagillt, Flintshire and Lincoln's Inn; thence by descent; Sotheby's London, 9 July 2015 (224); Chorley's, Prinknash Abbey Park, Gloucestershire, 26 January 2016 (815)
Unsigned; no inscription
Mount inscriptions
[1] Incised at upper end of middle vertical stretcher bar: DINER
[1] An old torn, faded and incomplete handwritten label on the reverse of the upper stretcher bar and horizontal frame member reads in part: Dear Panton, Greatly thank ...picture you sent for my inspection ... the picture ... of Wilson but has been ... to buy back. | Most faithfully yours, O. Bowles
The Villa Madama was designed by Raphael for Cardinal Giuliano dei Medici (later Pope Clement VII) and took its name from having been occupied by Margaret of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Charles V, and Duchess of Parma, in the late 16th century. The location shown was probably called 'Il Teatro' as the tragicomedy Il Pastor Fido by G.B. Guarini was performed there in about 1590. From this the libretto of Handel's eponymous opera was derived (1712, revived 1734).
Related Prints
E14 William Byrne after Wilson A View in the Villa Madama, near Rome, called Il Teatro, 1765, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven (B1984.21.428) and other impressions
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Critical commentary
The present work seems to be a simplified replica of P91 (Petworth House, National Trust) though in some respects it is closer to P91D (National Museum Wales, Cardiff). A label attached to the stretcher is signed by Oldfield Bowles. It is possibly written to Paul Panton who had asked him to examine the picture. Bowles himself owned a version of this composition which he sold to Samuel Rogers for 100 guineas and which was admired by Farington. The composition was clearly one of Wilson's 'good breeders' as at least five authentic versions are known.
WGC pp. 202-3 pl. 82a (version 5). The label written by Oldfield Bowles (see Labels) may have caused some confusion with version 6 in Constable's commentary.
Relined. Fitted in a gilded neoclassical frame. Kate Lowry has noted: Viewed in frame. Turnover edges not examined. Glue-lined probably in 20th century and mounted on new seven-member pine stretcher with square mortice joints. Colour of ground not discovered. Paint film covers ground completely. The foliage is mostly a flat dark green without the variety of green/red/brown tones found in Wilson's best paintings of this subject. The figures have a smoothness and detail to them which is uncharacteristic of Wilson. For these reasons this is probably a studio copy rather than a version by Wilson himself.
Updated by Compiler
2020-10-19 00:00:00