Drawing : 5 ¼ ‘’ x 7 5/8’’ (13.3 x 19.3 cm) - Framed : 10 13/16” x 13” (27.5 x 33 cm)
In this drawing, inspired by his sojourn in Naples in 1765, William Marlow presents us with a view of Cape Posillipo, to the west of Naples, an essential stage during the Grand Tour. The drawing appealed to us because of the velvety softness of the different wash tones, which perfectly capture the slightly heavy atmosphere of a fine summer's day by the Mediterranean Sea.
1. William Marlow, a British landscape painter influenced by Italy
William Marlow was an English landscape and marine painter, as well as an engraver. He was born in London's Southwark district. Between 1756 and 1761, he was a pupil of the seascape painter Samuel Scott (1702 - 1772) in Covent Garden while studying at the Academy of St. Martin's Lane. He became a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists and, from 1762 to 1764, took part in their exhibitions in Spring Gardens. He specialized in landscape painting, mainly views of country houses.
From 1765 to 1768, on the advice of the Duchess of Northumberland, he undertook his Grand Tour and travelled to France and Italy (he stayed in Naples in 1765). On his return to London, he settled in Leicester Square and renewed his contributions to the Society of Artists, becoming a member in 1771. In 1788, he moved to Twickenham and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, where he exhibited regularly until 1796, and again, for the last time, in 1807. He died in Twickenham on 14 January 1813.
Most of Marlow's works held in public collections can be found in the Government Art Collection and the Tate Gallery in London, and some in regional galleries in Great Britain, including the Derby Art Gallery.
2. A typically Neapolitan landscape
The Posillipo district is a hilly area to the west of the center of Naples. One of its most remarkable natural monuments is Cape Posillipo (picture in the Gallery), which was probably represented (seen from the side) in this drawing with Vesuvius visible on the other side of the bay.
Thanks to the discoveries of Herculaneum and Pompeii and the start of excavations at these two sites, Naples became in the second half of the 18th century one of the key destinations during the Grand Tour, the initiatic journey undertaken by the young English aristocrats who inspired Marlow's travel to Italy.
The presence in the foreground of some fishermen pushing a boat into the sea makes the drawing very lively. But it was the mastery of the wash, particularly its velvety texture, and its ability to evoke the atmosphere of a fine summer's day, that really attracted us in this drawing.
3. Framing proposal
The drawing is presented in an Italian frame in gilded wood and faux marble.
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