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Creator:
Richard Wilson RA, 1714–1782, British, active in Italy (1750–56)
Title:

Italian Landscape (Morning)

Former Title(s):

Temple of Venus, Baiae

Date:
between 1760 and 1765
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Support (PTG): 27 5/8 x 37 1/4 inches (70.2 x 94.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1981.25.690
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
arches | boys | bridge (built work) | children | dawn | figures | Italian | landscape | mountains | river | riverbank | ruins | rural | staff (walking stick) | steeple | tombstone | tower (building division) | water | woman
Associated Places:
Baiae | Campania | Italy | Napoli
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:71
Export:
XML

This composition has been known by several titles including The Temple of Venus at Baiae. Although that identification has been challenged, it is partly correct. The painting does show the ancient ruins at Baiae, but they were actually part of a bath complex rather than a temple to Venus. A surviving drawing of the ruins made by Richard Wilson in Italy in the early 1750s shows the building from the other side and reveals how Wilson made radical adjustments to its coastal setting to achieve an ideal composition. The effect was to produce a more generalized view of the Italian landscape evocative of a lost golden age rather than a topographical view of a particular set of ruins.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



This composition has been known under several titles, notably The Temple of Venus at Baiae. Although that identification has been challenged, it is partly correct. The painting shows the same building (which was actually baths rather than a temple) as that in a drawing made by Wilson in the early 1750s now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (DYCE.647) but seen from the opposite side, revealing the ruined open aspect of the structure. Nonetheless, Wilson has made radical adjustments to its coastal setting.

Gallery label for Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-03-06 - 2014-06-01)



The exact location of this view is not known, although the position of the ruin at the water's edge, and its nearly circular form, are reminiscent of the Temple of Venus at Baiae, near the western end of the Bay of Naples. The picture is typical of the work Wilson produced after he returned to London at the end of the 1750s. The opened sarcophagus in the foreground is a solecism. Nothing remotely like it in shape survives from antiquity. Yet it served Wilson's compositional and atmospheric purposes to put it there, a few paces to the left of the peasants in the foreground. The golden quality of the morning light and the breadth of the distant coastal plain are both typical of Wilson's classicizing views of Neapolitan subjects.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005
This composition has been known under several titles, notably The Temple of Venus at Baiae. It has been said that neither the architecture nor the setting support this identification and that the building is not the same as that in Wilson’s drawing of the Temple of Venus at Baiae in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Dyce 647). In fact, it has not hitherto been noticed that the present painting shows precisely the same building (which was actually baths rather than a temple), but from the opposite side, revealing the ruined open aspect of the structure. The same view was drawn by, for example, Jan Brueghel the Younger (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 65.20), and Wilson’s view, complete with water and figures on land in the foreground, is essentially the same as that on one of the plates of the famous porcelain “Goose” service made for Ferdinand I di Borbone in the 1790s (Museo di Capodimonte, Naples). The way the temple then appeared, perched on its foundations within a deserted bay (although seen from the opposite side), was captured by J.M.W. Turner in a drawing made for Dr. Monro in the 1790s (Tate, London, D36422). The landscape in the middle distance resembles the view looking out from the Bay of Pozzuoli and the town of Baia toward Naples, which the artist has contrived to show by changing the angle at which the temple sits in relation to the bay.

The area was much favoured by Wilson, and Torregaveta, for example, lies just on the other side of the headland from Baia. This kind of capriccio (the palace and tower at the left are an added part of the mix) suggests a date nearer the middle years of the 1760s, and the style is typical of those produced in the decade or so after Wilson’s return to London, retaining the freshness and delicate handling of his Italian landscapes but with added brilliance and heightened colour. A version of the picture was engraved in 1824 by S. W. Reynolds as “Morning” and published by W. B. Cooke in Gems of Art. There are other versions of the compositions in private collections, as well as one at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea.

Paul Spencer-Longhurst and Robin Simon

Martin Postle, Richard Wilson and the transformation of European landscape painting, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 322, Cat. No. 100, NJ18.W72 R53 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Duncan Bull, Classic ground, British artists and the landscape of Italy, 1740-1830 , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1981, p. 57, no. 82, ND1354.4 B85 (YCBA)

Catalogue of pictures by Richard Wilson and his circle, November 17-January 9 1948-9 , City Museum & Art Gallery Birmingham, Birmingham, 1948, p. 13, no. 14, 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. 15, no. 13, NJ18 W72 T37 (YCBA)

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 252, 253, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Martin Postle, Richard Wilson and the transformation of European landscape painting, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 322, Cat. No. 100, NJ18.W72 R53 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Spencer-Longhurst, Paul, with Kate Lowry and David Solkin, Richard Wilson Online : A Digital Catalogue Raisonne, , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 2014, no. P92B, http://www.richardwilsononline.ac.uk/index.php?WINID=1582051040261


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