Follower of Richard Wilson RA, Avignon Bridge Capriccio - C18th chalk drawing


An original 18th-century chalk drawing, Follower of Richard Wilson RA, Avignon Bridge Capriccio.

This is one of a pair of beautiful and intriguing sketches in black chalk showing capriccio river scenes (see JK-910 for pair). The drawing is inscribed on the backing paper 'R.W.' and it derives from a small collection of works after Richard Wilson that we have for sale with the provenance of William Drummond (Covent Garden Gallery, London), the renowned British drawings and watercolours dealer. Richard Wilson RA (1714–1782) was an influential Welsh landscape painter, who is considered the ’father’ of British landscape painting, and was a major influence on J.M.W. Turner and John Constable.

This scene is inscribed on the verso of the backing paper 'WILSON' and 'D'Avignon'. The scene resembles the medieval Pont d'Avignon or Pont Saint-Bénézet, a famous landmark in the southern French town of Avignon, but the representation is not entirely accurate: the Pont d'Avignon has four arches remaining intact but here there are just two. The scene, and its pair, appear to be capriccios, possibly inspired by the crumbling medieval architecture on the Rhône—the ruins and small figures providing perfect picturesque subject.

Whilst Provence was not typically painted by Grand Tourists, the area gradually increased in popularity thanks to French painters of the 18th century such as Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714–1789), who was born at Avignon. Vernet spent the years 1734 to 1752 in Rome, where he had many English clients and admirers, including Richard Wilson, whom Vernet is thought to have encouraged as a landscape painter. The bridge in this drawing also evokes the ruined Pons Aemilius (or Ponte Rotto) over the Tiber in Rome, the city's oldest Roman stone bridge—a view also painted by Vernet.  

Richard Wilson is best known for his Italianate landscapes, influenced by the grand classical style of Poussin, Claude and Zuccarelli. Wilson was born in Penegoes, Montgomeryshire but moved to London in 1729 to train under Thomas Wright. In 1750 he left London for Rome where he remained until 1757, and it was this period in Italy which was to be most influential on Wilson’s developing landscape style. Drawing was important to Wilson, and his preferred medium was black chalk and stump on a grey paper. Many of Wilson’s landscape oil paintings were based on the large number of drawings that he made during his Italian sojourn.

In black chalk with white chalk highlights on buff-grey paper. Laid down on a backing paper cut to the size of the artwork, further laid down on backing paper with drawn border.

Unsigned. Inscribed on backing paper lower left: 'R.W.' Inscribed verso 'WILSON' and 'D'Avignon'.
There is some slight buckling to the paper where it has been laid down, and some minor marks as shown. Please see photos for detail.
9.2cm x 13.7cm.

Richard Wilson RA (1714–1782) is best known as the earliest major British painter to concentrate on landscape. His stay in Italy, 1750 to 1757, was instrumental in developing his landscape style, influenced by the grand classical style of Poussin, Claude and Zuccarelli. On his return to London, Wilson hired several apprentices, including Thomas Jones and Joseph Farington. He continued to paint Italian landscapes, and also took commissions from English and Welsh landowners who wanted views of their estates painted in the Italian style, reminding them of their Grand Tours of Europe. Wilson was a founder member of the Royal Academy in 1768.

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Product code: JK-909

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