- Museum number
Nemi; view looking down on the lake which lies in the hollow of wooded shores, with buildings on steep heights and on the opposite side, in the foreground two figures on a rock, and stone-pine with cypresses
Black chalk and stump, heightened with white, on grey paper
- Production date
- 1752-1756 (circa)
Height: 256 millimetres
Width: 392 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- With its elevated perspective, broad horizon, repoussoir trees and airy expanse of sky, this drawing speaks clearly of Claude Lorrain’s influence on Richard Wilson’s compositional style. For David Solkin, the real Claudean phase of Wilson’s work only lasts for a couple of years in the mid-1750s, after which point his works more closely resemble the compositions of Gaspard Dughet, (see for example ‘On the outskirts of Rome’, 1881,0212.60). Wilson himself said that he admired Claude for air and Gaspard for composition (Solkin, pp. 14-15).
As Solkin and subsequent scholars have observed, as well as respecting the work of these 17th century predecessors, Wilson was also influenced by the work of his contemporaries. Many drawings, such as ‘Figures in landscape’ (1881,0212.46) that date from his first few years in Italy display the Rococo stylings of Marco Ricci and Francesco Zuccarelli. Other crucial figures in Wilson’s development were Jan Frans van Bloemen, known as ‘l’Orizzonte’, and Claude-Joseph Vernet, a French landscape painter living in Rome. Vernet’s influence can be seen very clearly in ’A coastal scene (1881,0212.47), where Wilson also adopts the French ‘trois crayons’ technique. In this sketch Wilson seems less interested in attaining the effects of natural light, as he later would be in drawings such as ‘Lake Nemi’, instead he appears to be more interested in using shading to create decorative effects (Solkin, p. 155).
From about 1753 onwards Wilson’s style and technique matured swiftly, becoming more recognisably his own. As his pupil Joseph Farington would later write, ‘Wherever Wilson studied it was to nature he principally referred. His admiration of the pictures of Claude could not be exceeded, but he … compared them with what he saw in nature to refine his feelings and make his observations more exact.’ (Quoted Simon, in Postle & Simon, p. 12.) It is this mature style that can be seen in drawings such as ‘Dolbadarn Castle’ (1881,0212.6), where Wilson succeeds in raising the status of the Welsh landscape by associating it with classical sources and using it to display the universal ideal underlying all of nature, which was deemed so important by 18th century aesthetic theorists (see Solkin, p. 216).
‘Richard Wilson Online’ reference number: D105
M. Postle & R. Simon, Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2014.
D. Solkin, Richard Wilson, the Landscape of Reaction, Tate Gallery Publications, London, 1982.
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
1969, BM, 'Royal Academy Draughtsmen 1769-1969', no.108
1977/8 Nov-Jan, Bremen Kunsthalle, 'Retour a la Nature', no. 215
1991/2 Nov-Feb, Munich, Neue Pinakothek, 'von Dillis', no. A23
1992 Mar-May, Dresden, Galerie Neue Meister, 'von Dillis', no. A23
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number