- Museum number
Peasants near a building; three figures seated on the ground l, two figures bending over them, a well right and house behind, a tree rising above a wall
- Production date
- 1750-1752 (circa)
Height: 153 millimetres
Width: 227 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This drawing is slightly unusual in Richard Wilson’s work because it foregrounds the human element of the composition. Though Wilson was indebted to the French landscape painter Claude-Joseph Vernet for many of his earlier landscape productions, the Welshman did not give human narrative the prominence it found in the Frenchman’s work. Character studies are very rare amongst the artist’s extant drawings. As Robin Simon has argued, Wilson’s figures tend to be subordinate to the overall effect of the landscape. For this reason print makers, even during Wilson’s lifetime, would often change his figures to give them a greater importance and make the prints more immediately legible to the viewer. Wilson was driven to say to the painter and print-maker John Hamilton Mortimer, ‘Your figures are good but you have not put them in the right places and have broken the unity of effect that I had left’ (quoted Simon, in Postle & Simon, p. 11). It was not rare for artists with different specialities to work collaboratively on certain projects; Mortimer also painted the figures in many of Thomas Jones’ landscapes, and Wilson himself is thought to have supplied the landscapes for some of Johan Zoffany’s conversation pieces (see Ana María Suárez Huerta in Postle & Simon, pp. 111-112, for further details on this relationship). Stylistically we can date the present drawing to Wilson’s earlier Italian period, either during his journey from Venice to Rome or from his first year in Rome (see also 1881,0212.36 for further commentary.)
'Richard Wilson Online' reference number: D142
M. Postle & R. Simon, Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2014.
The curator’s comments on the drawings of Richard Wilson were written by Olivia Ghosh, Anne Christopherson Fellow in the Department of Prints and Drawings, August 2017.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number