Tivoli: The Temple of the Sybil and the Campagna

Richard Wilson
British (Welsh) (1714–1782)
18th century
c. 1765
Oil on canvas
29 x 38 1/2 in. (73.6 x 97.8 cm) Framed: 36 1/2 x 46 x 3 3/4 in. (92.7 x 116.8 x 9.5 cm)
APx 1979.29
Currently On View
Tivoli, in the Sabine hills to the east of Rome, was from the seventeenth century a favorite destination for artists. The grandeur of its landscape, with its evocations of ancient glory, also made it a major destination for foreign visitors on the Grand Tour. Like the artist seen sketching in this picture, Richard Wilson, who was in Italy in the 1750s, must have passed many pleasurable hours drawing the dramatic site, with its distinctive round Temple of Vesta, known as the Temple of the Sibyl. Tivoli and the Campagna (countryside) had also figured in the works of Claude Lorrain and Gaspard Dughet. Wilson’s composition derives unmistakably from their classical landscapes: a wedge of land framed by a tree, the hillside view of Tivoli, and the vista of the low plain as it extends toward Rome. The Kimbell painting—a variant of a composition the artist first painted in 1752—was made after Wilson’s return to Britain. By introducing the ideal landscape to the next generation, he played a major role in establishing the British school of landscape painters. Even John Constable, who professed no need to go to Italy, was influenced by Wilson and spoke of how his work “still swims in my brain like a delicious dream.” The young J. M. W. Turner’s debt was explicit: many years before he made his own trip to the Roman Campagna, he copied the Kimbell painting, though omitting the large tree and figures (c. 1798, Tate, London).

Provenance

John Laporte [1761-1839], London; purchased on 10 June 1817 by Amabel Yorke, baroness Lucas of Crudwell, countess de Grey of Wrest [1750-1833], London and Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, England; by inheritance to her nephew, Thomas Philip Robinson Weddell (later de Grey), 6th baron Lucas of Crudwell, 3rd baron Grantham, and 2nd earl de Grey of Wrest [1781-1859], Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, as “View at Albano, near Rome”; by inheritance to his daughter, Anne Florence Weddell de Grey Cowper, baroness Lucas of Crudwell, countess Cowper [1806-80], Panshanger, Hertfordshire, and Wrest Park, Bedfordshire; by inheritance to her son, Francis Thomas de Grey Cowper, 7th earl Cowper, 8th baron Lucas of Crudwell, 4th lord Dingwall, 3rd baron Butler of Moore Park [1834-1905], Panshanger, Hertfordshire, and Wrest Park, Bedfordshire; by inheritance to his nephew, Auberon Thomas Herbert, 9th baron Lucas of Crudwell, 5th lord Dingwall [1876-1916], London; by inheritance to his sister, Nan Ino Herbert Cooper, baroness Lucas of Crudwell, lady Dingwall, [1880-1958] London; (her sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, 26 May 1922, no. 89, as “A View at Albano, near Rome”); purchased for 160 guineas by (Percy Moore Turner, Independent Gallery, London). (Scott and Fowles, New York); purchased by Mrs. Frederick Wallis Hinkle, Cincinnati, late 1920s or early 1930s; (Newhouse Galleries, Inc., New York); purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1979.