An Italian Landscape, Morning (River…

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An Italian Landscape, Morning (River…
An Italian Landscape, Morning (River…
An Italian Landscape, Morning
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
An Italian Landscape, Morning (River, Sea-Coast and circular Ruin) (The Temple of Venus at Baiae)
c.1760-65 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 70.2 x 94.6 cm
Imperial: 27 5/8 x 37 1/4 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
A classical landscape, with a man and two women conversing by a lake or river on which two boats are sailing. In the left foreground on a high bank stands an open sarcophagus with antique medallion motif. To the right are two arches of a ruined bridge with a ruined circular building above and behind. A carefully observed group of buildings with a campanile appear among trees to the left before a mountain in the distance.
Royal Academy, Old Masters, 1903 (10); Birmingham 1948-49 (14); London 1949 (13); New Haven 1981 (82); Tercentenary 2014 (100)
Sir Francis Cook 1st Bart (1817-1901), Doughty House, Richmond; by descent to Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, 4th Bart (1907-1978); Thomas Agnew & Sons, from whom purchased 1965 by Paul Mellon
Unsigned; no inscription
Techniques and materials
Unusual for this period in its high tonality and for the coloured shadow of the standing woman. The impastoed reinforcement of the clouds is intrusive as the dark clouds by the horizon are flat. There are many impastoed foreground details. The trees at the right are painted over spaces but the sky has been left as space round the branches. Sky spaces have also been left and then reinforced under the arches. The tower and tree at the left are painted over the horizon. The descending horizon of the sky is normal for Wilson. The figures are quite well articulated and the sheen on the water is good. A lot of underpainting is showing through at the right. There are no birds in the large expanse of the sky but the foreground is detailed.
[1] Agnew's label on stretcher: No. 400
[2] '48' in chalk
[3] PM 1723
The exact location of the view 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 (Dyce.647)
Related Prints
E64 William Pengree Sherlock, River, Sea-Coast and circular Ruin ('Morning'), The British Museum (1873,0809.1415)
E72/14 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Temple of Venus with Part of the Bay of Baiae, The British Museum (1854,0708.71)
E72/40 Thomas Hastings Landscape (River, Sea Coast and circular Ruin), 1824, The British Museum (1854,0708.97)
E73 Samuel William Reynolds Morning, 1824, The British Museum (1879,0614.334) and other impressions
See 'Links' tab
Related Works by Other Artists
J.M.W. Turner The Bay of Baiae, with Apollo and the Sibyl, exh. 1823, Tate, London (N00505)
Critical commentary
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 or in the famous Turner painting of the Bay of Baiae in Tate, London (N00505). 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. Another version, P92A River, Sea Coast and circular Ruin, Private Collection, England was mistakenly described as Vale of Narni when exhibited in 1925 at the Tate Gallery. The present work differs from both P92 and P92A in background details and the inclusion of two boats on the water.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Object ID: 71
M.W. Brockwell, Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond, 1915, vol. 3, no. 403; Burlington Magazine, 1917, p. 118; WGC, pp. 217-18, 282, pl. 106a (version 1; image mistakenly used to illustrate P92A); Cormack 1985, pp. 252 & 253; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 283
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
More Information
The title, An Italian Landscape, Morning, appears to date from 1824, when one version of the picture was engraved by S.W. Reynolds with the title Morning (E73A and other impressions).
Contained in a rococo frame very close in design to that of P144 The White Monk - I, Toledo Museum of Art. Good condition but with slight vertical craquelure. Foreground figures slightly rubbed. Some adjustment made of mismatched retouching along top edge by Lance Mayer & Gay Myers.
Updated by Compiler
2021-03-17 00:00:00