- Museum number
An arcadian glade with figures and a waterfall; a man and a woman in classical dress, with a dog lying beside them, seated beneath a group of trees in landscape with buildings in distance to right, high rocks with waterfall to left. 1794
Graphite, pen and black ink, with grey washes, on contemporary washed and lined mount
- Production date
Height: 400 millimetres
Height: 470 millimetres
Width: 610 millimetres (mount)
Width: 535 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- In 1971, the Walker Art Gallery purchased a painting by Wallis titled 'Landscape near Rome', signed and dated 1794. For reproduction and further details see article by Colin J Bailey, 'The English Poussin', in "Annual Report and Bulletin of the Walker Art Gallery", Vol. VI, 1975-6, pp. 35ff.
Text from Ian Jenkins and Kim Sloan, 'Vases and Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and his Collection', BM 1996, cat.184:
In 1778 the Earl of Warwick deposited money in his uncle Sir William Hamilton's account in order that Hamilton could pay Warwick's artist, John Smith, his monthly stipend. In 1794 Hamilton found himself repeating the exercise for another of Warwick's artists, but this time the money from the earl was not forthcoming: 'It is hard that Lord Warwick will not pay me what I have advanced by his order to the painter Wallis, whose general receipt I have now sent to Ross & Olgivie' (Morrison, no. 238). This was at a time when Hamilton was heavily in debt, and six months later he complained again to Warwick's brother Charles Greville that Warwick was not paying the money (£400) nor even answering his letter (Morrison, no. 247).
Wallis is now almost forgotten in Britain, but in 1785-6 he exhibited watercolours and drawings at the Royal Academy and in 1788 was sent by the Earl of Warwick to Rome. According to the only monograph on his work, he arrived in Naples the following year and there soon became part of the circle of German artists which included Hackert (Jenkins & Sloan 1996, cat. nos 182-3), Kniep (Jenkins & Sloan 1996, cat. no. 26) and Tischbein (Jenkins & Sloan 1996, cat. no. 7; and pp.85-7). He may also have been involved in the latter's publication of Hamilton's second vase collection (Graf von Baudissin, summarised by Bailey, p. 37). The bistre drawing exhibited here certainly indicates he was part of the circle which met regularly at Hackert's studio to practise this type of landscape; his drawing style as represented in this work is perhaps closest to that of Kniep. The German artists looked to seventeenth-century Italianate painters like Claude for their own versions of the ideal Classical landscape, but they relied much more firmly on truth to nature in details than did British artists, and there was normally a great deal of rivalry between the two schools of artists working in Naples and Rome. British Grand Tourists often preferred the work of Lusieri and Ducros and these German artists to paintings by English artists, who were trained to concentrate on grand manner and effect rather than to pay minute attention to detail. At first glance Wallis seems to have adopted the German technique, but in the end he fell between the two camps, seldom satisfactorily fulfilling the demands of either.
When he first arrived in Italy, Wallis travelled to the usual sites visited by artists, and in 1792 he attracted the attention of Thomas Hope, who took him to Sicily as his draughtsman. Shortly afterwards he returned to the island in the company of Lord Berwick, and was then described as being likely to become 'the best of the English branch since the death of poor [Jacob] More' - the latter had been described by Reynolds as 'the best painter of air since Claude' (Bailey, p. 38). Sir Joseph Banks's friend Charles Blagden visited Wallis's studio in Naples in February 1793, but was not as impressed with his work as other British Grand Tourists had been:
'We then went to Mr Wallis's, an English artist, young man with keen black eyes. He has a very large picture, just finished, of the Isola di Sora in the Garigliano ... scene morning: colouring dark blues, hard, unnatural: some very fine trees, an ornament which he seems to have studied particularly. As companion to this view, he is at work on a evening view in which the ruins of Paestum ... These pictures are painted for Corbet Corbet.' (Royal Society, Blagden Diary, II, f 57).
Sir William Hamilton's 1798 manuscript list of his paintings at the Palazzo Sessa (British Library, Add. MS 41,200, ff. 121-8) included two works by Wallis: a view of the 'Posillipo Casino' which did not appear in the later sales, and a large upright landscape, possibly in oils, which did. Lot 85 on 17 April 1801 was a ‘View of a Cascade in Abruzzo, and on the River Litis, now called Garigliano’ which had hung in the first antechamber in the Palazzo (untraced); if this painting was at all like the large 'Landscape near Rome' which now hangs in the Walker Art Gallery at Liverpool, then it was a very attractive painting indeed. A large anonymous watercolour at Attingham Park, Shropshire, which hangs with the works by Hackert and Lusieri acquired by Lord Berwick, may be by Wallis, who like Hackert and Ducros sometimes relied on other artists to paint his figures; also like the others he often hand-coloured outline etchings of his compositions.
In 1794 Wallis settled in Rome, where he became part of the circle of German artists that included Joseph Anton Koch and Johann Christian Reinhart and was ostracised by British artists. In 1807, when he attempted to return to England to settle, the British artists reported to the diarist Joseph Farington that Wallis had spied on them during the French occupation of Rome (Bailey, p. 50). The landscapes he exhibited that year at the Royal Academy were reviewed ecstatically by 'The Times', which claimed he was the equal of Rosa, Poussin and Claude. Later that year the dealer William Buchanan sent him to Spain to act as his agent. He spent four successful years in Heidelberg, finally settling in Florence in 1818 (Bailey, pp. 36, 53).
Literature: There is further information about Wallis's 1792-3 expeditions in Charles Blagden's manuscript diary in the Royal Society; Claus Graf von Baudissin, "George August Wallis, Maler aus Schottland, 1768-1847", Heidelberg, 1924; C.J. Bailey, "The English Poussin - An introduction to the life and work of George Augustus Wallis", Annual Report Bullettin, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, VI, 1975-6, pp. 35-54.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996 Mar-Jul, BM, Vases and Volcanoes, no.184
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number