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Creator:
Richard Wilson RA, 1713/4–1782, British, active in Italy (1750–56)
Title:

Temple of Minerva Medica, Rome

Additional Title(s):

T. of Minerva Medica.

Temple of Minerva Medici, Rome

Date:
1754
Medium:
Black and white chalk on moderately thick, rough, blue laid paper mounted on moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper with border of moderately thick, moderately textured, cream laid paper with purple wash
Dimensions:
Sheet: 11 5/16 x 16 9/16 inches (28.7 x 42.1 cm) and Mount: 13 7/8 x 19 1/2 inches (35.2 x 49.5 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed in brown ink, on sheet attached to mount, lower center: "T. of Minerva | Medica."; in black chalk, on mount, lower right: "No. 19"; in graphite, on back of mount, upper left: "7403"; on back of mount, upper right: "30"

Signed and dated in black chalk, on mount, lower left: "R. Wilson f. 1754"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1977.14.4654
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | buildings | city | fields | figures | Grand Tour | landscape | nymphaeum | ruins | temple | trees | wall
Associated Places:
Italy | Lazio | Roma | Rome | Temple of Minerva Medica
Access:
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open to Yale ID holders by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:14277
Export:
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IIIF Manifest:
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In 1754 William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth (1731-1801), commissioned a set of sixty-eight drawings from Wilson as a souvenir of his Grand Tour. These ‘Dartmouth Drawings,’ all views of Italy, are considered one of the crowning achievements of Wilson’s years in Italy and of British topographical draftsmanship in the eighteenth century. The initial commission as negotiated by Thomas Jenkins was more modest in scope with just twenty drawings of Rome and its environs; this sheet belongs to that first series all of which were mounted with a characteristic lilac border and numbered one through twenty, this sheet being number nineteen. This soon became a more ambitious project and eventually totalled sixty-eight drawings according to Wilson’s pupil, Joseph Farington, although only twenty-six drawings can now be traced. This drawing represents the so-called Temple of Minerva Medica, a ruin that was one of the most famous and frequently reproduced Antique monuments in eighteenth-century Rome. Situated close to the Porta Maggiore on agricultural land within the ancient Aurelian walls, the decagonal, domed structure was identified during the eighteenth century as a temple dedicated to Minerva the Doctor but was most likely a dining pavilion built for an elite Roman family in around AD 300. Wilson’s sheet emphasizes the brick ribs that formed the dome of the structure, which collapsed in 1828; the facade and campanile of the church of Santa Bibiana are seen beyond. Like all the Dartmouth Drawings, Wilson executed this sheet in black chalk with white heightening on a toned paper in the manner of the French artists then working at the Académie de France à Rome.

Gallery label for Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-03-06 - 2014-06-01)
Over the course of his stay in Italy, Wilson developed into a draftsman of great subtlety and delicacy. One of the crowning achievements of his years there is the series of sixty-eight finished landscape drawings, which Lord Dartmouth commissioned from Wilson following his two oil paintings of Rome. Of the drawings, twenty-some are known today. “The Temple of Minerva Medica” is one of two from the set now in the Yale Center for British Art. Because of the statue of Minerva found within it, the fourth-century ruin was thought to be a temple to the goddess, though it is now believed to have been a nymphaeum, or fountain structure, in the Gardens of Licinius. The dome visible in Wilson’s drawing collapsed in 1828. While Wilson’s drawings for Dartmouth are topographical in that they depict actual views in Rome and its environs, his choice of media—black and white chalk on blue paper—reflects not the standard practice of the topographical draftsman, which would have been pen and ink with watercolor, but the techniques employed at the Académie Française in Rome, redolent of the traditions of Old Master drawing.

Scott Wilcox

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy: a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 250-251, no. 20, pl. 20, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)



According to Joseph Farington, who was Richard Wilson's pupil in the early 1760s, it was to improve his are as a portrait painter that Wilson traveled to Italy in 1750. During the years he spent there, until 1756 or 1757, he gave up portraiture and devoted himself to landscape. In a series of lectures in 1836 devoted to the history of landscape painting, John Constable credited Wilson with "opening the way to the genuine principles of Landscape in England," and stated that "it was in Italy that [Wilson] first became acquantied with his own powers."

Although he was primarily a painter, over the course of his stay in Italy Wilson also developed into a draftsman of great subtlety and delicacy. One of the crowning achievements of his years in Italy is the series of finished landscape drawings for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. Lord Dartmouth, who made the Grand Tour in 1752-3, acquired two views of Rome in oils from Wilson (one of which, Rome from the Villa Madam, 1753, is in the Yale Center for British Art) and sixty-eight drawings. Of the drawings, twenty-some are known today. The Temple of Minerva Medica is one of two from the set now in the Yale Center for British Art. While Wilson's drawings for Dartmouth are topographical in that they depict actual views in Rome and its environs, his choice of media - black and white chalk on blue paper - reflects not the standard practice of the topographical draftsman, which would have been pen and ink with watercolor, but the techniques employed at the French Academy in Rome, redolent of the traditions of Old Master drawing.

Similar to the Dartmouth series in date and in the sensitivity of its draftsmanship is Wilson's drawing of a plane tree on the banks of Lake Nemi. The tree is presumably the one mentioned by Wilson's pupil Thomas Jones, when he visited Nemi in April 1778: "All went to make sketches about the Lake of Nemmi - particularly a large Plane tree call'd the Arbor Santa, which has a hollow within that I bekieve w'd contain about a dozen persons & I was told that my Old Master Willson when in this Country made use of it as a Study to paint in."

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001, pg. 119, cat. no. 98

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 250-251, no. 20, pl. 20, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Catalogue of pictures by Richard Wilson and his circle, November 17-January 9 1948-9 , City Museum & Art Gallery Birmingham, Birmingham, 1948, p. 24, no. 88, V 2449 (YCBA)

Catalogue of an exhibition of pictures by Richard Wilson and his circle : organized by the City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, January, 1949, The Tate Gallery, London, , Tate Britain, London, 1949, p. 27, no. 87, NJ18 W72 T37 (YCBA)

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 2, no. 20, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

Martin Postle, Richard Wilson and the transformation of European landscape painting, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, pp. 64, 254, 255, Cat. No. 67, fig. 57, NJ18.W72 R53 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Windows on that world, essays on British art presented to Brian Allen , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 2012, p. 70, N6766 .W56 2012 (YCBA)

Mahonri Sharp Young, The Mellon Drawings at the Morgan, Apollo, vo. 95, no. 122, April, 1972, pp. 331, 332-33, fig. 3, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy available in Vertical File - V 2330


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