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A Distant View of Rome from Monte MarioEnlarge image

A Distant View of Rome from Monte Mario, c. 1763-1765

Richard Wilson
British, 1714 - 1782
oil on canvas
100.3 x 135.3 cm
Purchased 1948
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4879)

Born in Wales, Wilson was naturally attracted to the sublime in landscape, spending six years in Italy perfecting his art. Although executed after his return to England, this view of Rome looking towards the Alban Hills repeats one that he had done on the spot from a vantage point popularized by the Roman landscape artist Orizzonte. Wilson’s engagement with the work of Claude Lorrain is evident, especially in the contrast of the dark foreground opening up to the soft golden light of the distance and the reference to antiquity in the funerary stele in the foreground. Yet it is clearly a topographical view, with Villa Madama in the trees at the right, Castel Sant’Angelo beyond it, the cupolas of Santa Maria Maggiore visible on the horizon, and the sun reflecting off the façade of Santissima Trinità dei Monti just in front of it. Frame: carved wood, gilded. Britain, mid-18th century

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