- Museum number
Father Tiber; bearded god reclining and holding a horn of plenty in his hand, the babies Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf are seen at his elbow l
Verso: Prow of a Roman Galley
Black chalk on yellow prepared paper
- Production date
Height: 95 millimetres
Width: 148 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The recto of this drawing depicts ‘Father Tiber’ holding a horn of plenty. Romulus and Remus can also be seen playing in the bottom left hand corner. It is likely that this sketch was used as a model for the statue of a river god on the right-hand of the painting ‘Apollo and the Seasons’ (circa 1768, Indianapolis Museum of Art, 57.46) The verso shows a small sketch of the prow of a Roman galley copied from an antique relief now in the Capitoline Museum. This drawing is reproduced almost exactly in the background of the painting ‘The Summons of Cincinnatus’ (private collection, England). Given the identical style and medium used in the sketch of Father Tiber, we can presume that this was also copied from a relief, which would also explain the slightly unusual nature of Wilson’s drawing.
‘The Summons of Cincinnatus’ and its pair, ‘The Departure of Regulus’ (private collection, England), were painted by Wilson in 1752 for Ralph Howard, later Viscount Wicklow. Wilson recorded receiving the commission on the 13th January 1752, which allows us to date his arrival in Rome to the beginning of the year. A letter of the 14th November 1752 records that the pictures had been delivered to Howard (see Ford, May 1951, p. 158). These drawings must therefore date from early to mid-1752.
The drawing of the boat prow is a rare example of a sketch or study of an object that is exactly reproduced in one of Wilson’s paintings. As Brinsley Ford argues, Wilson’s studies of nature or classical ruins most often correspond with the motifs in his paintings in type rather than detail. Most studies seem to have been made to familiarise the artist with the shape or genre of a plant or architectural fragment, building up his visual vocabulary so that he was able to produce works from memory rather than from a model (Ford, 1951, pp. 27-28). Thus studies such as ‘a tree stump’ (1881,0212.66) or ‘a burdock’ (1881,0212.32) could be manipulated to create multiple foregrounds for both views of real scenery or imaginary compositions. As Wilson’s pupil Joseph Farington later wrote, ‘from the various matter that he found in those celebrated places he composed many pictures, and stored his mind with classical ideas which enabled him to form those beautiful compositions which are now the object of general admiration.’ (Quoted Ford, 1951, p. 24.)
‘Richard Wilson Online’ reference number: D146
B. Ford, The Drawings of Richard Wilson, Faber & Faber, London, 1951.
B. Ford, ‘Richard Wilson in Rome. I – The Wicklow Wilsons’, in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 93, no. 578, May 1951, pp. 157-167.
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
- Exhibition history
1949 Jan London, Tate, 'Richard Wilson and his circle', no.114a
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number