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The picture remained on the artist's hands, and when he died he enjoined his widow not to dispose of it for less than £500. She kept his wish, but at the sale of her effects it fetched only fifty-six guineas. Time, however, has now avenged Hogarth's reverses. It was sold at Christie's in 1807 for 400 guineasslightly more than the sum paid for the alleged Correggio which it was painted to out-do. It was afterwards bequeathed to the nation, and now hangs, as we see it, opposite to Hogarth's most famous works. 316. LAKE SCENE IN CUMBERLAND.
Philip James de Loutherbourg, R.A. (1740–1812). An unimportant work by a French artist (born at Strassburg, educated at Paris), who settled in London, where he became scene painter to Garrick at 6500 a year, and a few years later R.A. He was remarkable chiefly for versatility; for, besides stage scenery, he painted portraits, landscape, seascape, still life, and battles. To these various duties he added that of “ faith healer"-a business which he carried on with pecuniary success in his house (near Garrick's) facing the river at Chiswick Mall. The combination of this trade with a faculty for painting, which was manifold but never first-rate, recalls to one, as applicable to de Loutherbourg, the epigram of Martial,—"All pretty, nothing good, my man, Makes a first-rate charlatan.” 1162. THE SHRIMP GIRL.
William Hogarth (1697-1764). See under 1161, p. 424.
A sketch from the life, taken perhaps on a holiday jaunt such as the one when “Hogarth and four friends set out, like Mr. Pickwick and his companions, for Gravesend, Rochester, Sheerness, and adjoining places. One of the gentlemen noted down the proceedings of the journey, for which Hogarth and Scott (whose portrait hangs close by, 1224) made drawings. The book is chiefly curious at this moment from showing the citizen life of those days, and the rough jolly style of merriment, not of the five companions merely, but of thousands of jolly fellows of their time” (Thackeray's English Humourists). One catches something of the contagion of such merry open-air life in this vigorous sketch of the jolly fish-wife, crying her wares, with her basket and measuring mug on her head. 304. LAKE AVERNUS.
Richard Wilson, R.A. (1714-1782). Wilson has a double claim upon our interest-he was the first English landscape painter of any importance, and he was one of the “ teachers of Turner” (see p. 647). He was born, not as the other founders of the English landscape school, in the Eastern counties, but in Wales. He was the son of a Welsh parson, and having shown some early taste for drawing,—his first pictures were done with burnt sticks on white walls, –a rich kinsman took him up to London and placed him under an obscure portrait painter. One of Wilson's portraits may be seen in the National Portrait Gallery : it is of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, and shows therefore that he had attained some celebrity in this branch of art. At the age of thirty-six he had saved enough money to realise the dream of his life and go to Italy, At Venice the artist Zuccarelli urged him to take to landscape painting, and at Rome the French painter Vernet (see p. 348) asked for one of Wilson's pictures in exchange for one of his own. Wilson stayed in Italy six years, and on Vernet's recommendation obtained several commissions. “Don't talk of my landscapes alone,” Vernet used to say to English purchasers, “when your own countryman, Wilson, paints so beautifully.” In 1757 he returned to London and lodged in Covent Garden. His “ Niobe ” (110, p. 441), painted two years later, won him some repute. When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768, he was one of the original members, and he afterwards obtained the post of librarian. The small salary, attached to this post, alone kept him from starvation. His pictures ceased to sell ; pawnbrokers were his principal patrons, and even they turned at last. One broker, when asked to take yet another, pointed to a pile of landscapes and said : “ Why, look ye, Dick, you know I wish to oblige, but see! there are all the pictures I have paid you for, these three years." Neglect such as this embittered Wilson's temper, but did not make him forsake his own ideals. Artists used to come and advise him to adopt a more popular manner. He would hear them out; and when they left, pour forth volleys of contemptuous wrath, and go on with his painting. The one continually bright spot in his life seems to have been the friendship of Sir William Beechey (see p. 546), at whose house he was a frequent guest. But other occasional pleasant glimpses of “ Poor Dick," as they called him, occur in the memoirs of the time. Garrick used sometimes to drop in to supper, and send a bottle of wine to replace the pot of porter which Wilson affected. “Mister Wilson,” said Mrs. Garrick, at a party to which he had been invited to meet Johnson, Sterne, and Goldsmith, “is rough to the taste at first, tolerable by a little longer acquaintance, and delightful at last.” Towards the end of his life he came, by the death of a brother, into the possession of a small property in Wales, whither he retired from a wretched lodging in Tottenham Court Road; but his strength began to fail, and after a few years he died.
The neglect from which Wilson suffered in the later years of his life 1
1 As an instance of critical foresight, it may be interesting to cite “ Peter Pindar's " prophecy of Wilson's fame in a century to follow
Till then old red-nosed Wilson's art
Will hold its empire o'er my heart,
may be accounted for by the style of his art. Gainsborough, though thirteen years younger, was rising into fame and leading a reaction from the “classical landscape” to one which was English in subject, and more realistic in treatment. Wilson, on the other hand, studied in Italy, and even there, saw not Italy as she was, but the Italy of Claude, Poussin, and Vernet. “Had he studied under favourable circumstances, there is evidence of his having possessed power enough to produce an original picture ; but, corrupted by the study of the Poussins, and gathering his materials chiefly in their field, the district about Rome,-a district especially unfavourable, as exhibiting no pure or healthy nature, but a diseased and overgrown flora, among half-developed volcanic rocks, loose calcareous concretions, and mouldering wrecks of buildings, and whose spirit I conceive to be especially opposed to the natural tone of the English mind,-his originality was altogether overpowered; and though he paints in a manly way and occasionally reaches exquisite tones of colours, and sometimes manifests some freshness of feeling (as in the · Villa of Mæcenas,' 108, p. 440), yet his pictures are in gene. ral mere diluted adaptations from Poussin and Salvator, without the dignity of the one, or the fire of the other” (Modern Painters, vol. i. pt. ii. sec. i. ch. vii. & 17). The extent to which Wilson carried the Italianising process is well shown by the incident of his dealings with George III., who had given him an order for a view of Kew Gardens. Instead of painting the reality, Wilson substituted an Italian scene illumined by a southern sun. The king failed to recognise any resemblance to Kew, and returned the picture.
A picture of special interest; the subject being one which laid great hold on Turner's imagination. The Lake Avernus by him in this Gallery (XIX. 463, p. 647) is one of his early works, painted long before he had been to Italy, and was no doubt an imitation, or rather a reminiscence (for Turner never copied his original), of Wilson's picture of the scene. 1064. ON THE RIVER WYE.
Richard Wilson, R.A. (1714-1782). See under 304, p. 430. 267. LANDSCAPE WITH FIGURES. Richard Wilson, R.A. (1714-1782). See under 304, p. 430.
A characteristic example of Wilson's “Byronic” way of looking at Italy: it was for him always a land with lovely distances, but with a sarcophagus or a ruin in the foreground.
But, honest Wilson, never mind;
Immortal praises thou shalt find,
Thou start'st at my prophetic rhymes :
Don't be impatient for those times ;
Wilson spent much of his time at or near Rome, and there is the same spirit in his paintings of Italian scenery that Byron afterwards expressed in poetry
The Niobe of nations ! there she stands,
Whose holy dust was scatter'd long ago. 675. PORTRAIT OF MARY HOGARTH.
William Hogarth (1697-1764). See under 1161, p. 424.
The elder of the artist's two sisters—the family likeness to himself (see 112, p. 444) is unmistakable. The portrait was painted in 1746, when Hogarth was a prosperous man, and his sisters were living unmarried in a ready-made clothes shop in Little Britain. He “loved them tenderly,” we are told, supported them generously, and, as we see, painted their plain, honest faces. 314. OLD WESTMINSTER BRIDGE.
Samuel Scott (died 1772). “ The best marine painter of his time in England, was born early in the eighteenth century. Walpole says of him : If he was but second to Vandevelde in sea pieces, he excelled him in variety, and often introduced buildings in his pictures with consummate skill. His views of London Bridge, of the quay at the Custom House, and others, were equal to his marines, and his figures were judiciously chosen and admirably painted ; nor were his washed drawings inferior to his finished pictures.' Scott, says Dallaway, may be styled the father of the modern school of painting in water colours.' He died of the gout, October 12, 1772" (Official Catalogue).
This bridge was built by Charles Labelye, a Swiss, at a cost of £390,000: it was commenced in 1739, and opened to the public in 1750. The first stone was laid by Henry, Earl of Pembroke. (The present bridge was begun in 1860.) 1174. THE WATERING PLACE.
T. Gainsborough, R.A. (1727-1788). A sketch for the larger picture, XVI, 109, p. 408. 303. A VIEW IN ITALY. Richard Wilson, R.A. (1714-1782). See under 304, p. 430.
One of Wilson's favourite Italian compositions—sometimes called “Hadrian's Villa,” from the Roman ruin on which the modern hut has been built.
302. A ROMAN RUIN.
Richard Wilson, R.A. (1714-1782). See under 304, p. 430. 313. OLD LONDON BRIDGE, 1745.
Samuel Scott (died 1772). See under 314, p. 433. “ This bridge, of which the last remnant was removed in 1832, was commenced by Peter of Colechurch in 1176, and occupied thirty-three years in building. The houses as seen in the picture were built after the great fire in 1666, and they were all removed between the years 1754 and 1761. The view is seen from the Surrey side" (Official Catalogue).
1071. A ROCKY RIVER SCENE.
Richard Wilson (1714-1782). See under 304, p. 430. Something of the “idealising” which distinguishes Wilson's landscapes may be seen in this little picture. It is a rocky river scene, yet the “river is not a mountain stream, but a classical stream, or what is called by head gardeners 'a piece of water.'”1 1016. A PORTRAIT OF A GIRL.
Sir Peter Lely (Dutch : 1617-1680). Lely, the court painter of the reign of Charles II., by whom he was knighted, was a native of Holland; his father's name was Van der Vaes, but the son took the nickname of Le Lys or Lely (from the lily with which the front of his father's house was ornamented), as a surname. He was born in Westphalia, but settled in England in 1641, the year of Van Dyck's death, on whom he modelled his style. It was Lely who is said to have painted Cromwell, “warts and all," but he easily accommodated himself to the softer manners of the Restoration. The rich curls, the full lips, and the languishing eyes of the frail beauties of Charles II. may be seen at Hampton Court. Lely was “a mighty proud man,” 2 says Pepys, “and full of state." The painting of great ladies was a lucrative business, and his collection of drawings and pictures sold at his death for £26,000, a sum which bore a greater proportion to the fortunes of the rich men of that day than £100,000
1 Catalogue of the Turner Gallery, p. 6, where, in describing Turner's “View in Wales" (466, now at Stoke-upon-Trent), Mr. Ruskin remarks that the view is “idealised and like Wilson, and therefore has not a single Welsh character.”
2 But also a man of humour. A nobleman said to him once, “How is it that you have so great a reputation, when you know, as well as I do, that you are no painter ?"_" True," replied Lely, “but I am the best you have. "