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Joseph Wright of Derby, 1734–1797, British, active in Italy (1773–75)

Lake Nemi

Former Title(s):


between 1790 and 1795
Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 14 1/4 x 21 1/2 inches (36.2 x 54.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
boats | buildings | evening | Grand Tour | Italian | lake | landscape | light | road | sailboat | seamen | water
Associated Places:
Italy | Lake Nemi | Lazio | Roma
Not on view

Lake Nemi, the pendant to Wright’s view of Lake Albano (B1981.25.717), was probably made in the early 1790s, some fifteen years after Wright’s Italian tour of 1773 to 1775. There is a framing tree to the right, while to the left is the town of Nemi itself. In antiquity the lake was sacred to Diana whose sanctuary stood on it banks. The contrast between the two paintings is partly compositional, but extends also to the contrasting times of day in correspondingly cool and warm keys: where Lake Albano is seen in morning light, Lake Nemi is bathed in a warm evening glow. This was a model that Wright undoubtedly knew from his study of the paintings of Richard Wilson, and both compositions, Lake Nemi and Lake Albano, in their careful framing and alternating climatic conditions, reflect similar pairs by Wilson.

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 264, 265, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Judy Egerton, Wright of Derby, Tate Publishing, London, 1990, p. 185, no. 115, NJ18 W95 +E54 1990 Oversize (YCBA)

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 78, ND466 G67 (YCBA)

Historic Trends in English Painting, The Times (London), Friday, December 2, 1966, p. 20, Available Online : Times Digital Archive Also available on microfilm : An T48.2 (SML)

Martin Postle, Richard Wilson and the transformation of European landscape painting, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 322, Cat. No. 152, NJ18.W72 R53 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Jason Rosenfeld, To Rival Claude, Apollo, vol. 180, July/August 2014, p. 93, N1 A54 (YCBA)

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