PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SPANISH COLLECTION
F. Rutter, "Sir Gomer Berry's Paintings at Chandos House", in Connoisseur, vol XXXIII, 1929, p. 266, reproduced plate VI (as Hubert Robert);
The Walpole Society, vol. XXVI, 1938 (Vertue Note Books, V), pp. 149-150;
F.J.B. Watson, "English Taste in the 18th Century", in Connoisseur, no. 137, 1956, p. 104 (3);
E. Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837, 1970, vol. II, p. 240, cat. no. 3;
B. Mazza, "La Vicenda dei 'Tombeaux des Princes': Matrici, storia e fortuna della serie McSwiny tra Bologna e Venezia", in Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell'Arte, vol. 10, 1976, p. 100;
F. Haskell and N. Penny, Patrons and Painters, New Haven and London 1980, pp. 287-91 (for the entire commission);
G. Knox, "'The Tombs of Famous Englishmen' as described in the letters of Owen McSwiny to the Duke of Richmond", in Arte Veneta, Venice 1983, vol. XXXVII, pp. 231 and 233, no. 12;
G. Sestieri, Repertorio della pittura romana della fine del Seicento e del Settecento, Turin 1994, vol. I, pp. 69-70;
S.P.V. Rodino, in J. Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, London 1996, vol. 15, p. 148.
This is one of a celebrated series of paintings depicting imaginary monuments of notable Britons of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The series was devised by Owen McSwiny, an Irish impresario living in Venice, and the pictures were commissioned from leading Venetian and Bolognese painters, between 1723 and 1730. Twenty-four compositions in all were planned, although twenty appear to have been executed. Ten of them, including the present picture, were sold by McSwiny to the 2nd Duke of Richmond (1701-1750) to decorate the dining room at Goodwood. The Goodwood paintings, like others in the series, are all collaborative works, here with the architectural elements painted by the Valeriani brothers, the landscape by Cimaroli and figures by Imperiali.
A lengthy correspondence between McSwiny and Richmond provides a detailed account of the evolution of the project for Goodwood (see Knox, under Literature). By March 1723 six of the paintings were complete and four already installed. Their favourable reception prompted McSwiny to increase their proposed number to fifteen: '...Seven to be each Side, and one at the End of the Room'. The painting to go at the end of the room which was to depict the tomb dedicated to the memory of William was to be broader than the other pictures, which were all to be of upright format. Unfortunately the Dining Room was not large enough to accommodate all fifteen proposed pictures, and a smaller number had to be settled upon. In March 1727 Richmond paid McSwiny for eight pictures, four of which had already been installed; the four remaining to be sent once all had been completed; and at the same time ordered a further three paintings including the King William 'monument'. The death of George I in 1727, however, prompted Richmond to alter his plans and have a 'monument' to the recently deceased King which would hang at the end of the room in the place of William's 'monument', which would now be of similar format to the other pictures. Richmond's original wish was for Solimena to paint the figures in George's monument as McSwiny's letter of 14 May 1728 makes clear: '...since you are resolved to have one by him [Solimena] to the Memory of King George the 1st I am determined to move towards Naples, as soon as the Architecture can be finished by The Valeriani's...'. On 27 May 1729 McSwiny again wrote to his patron: '...That to K. George I design to have done by one Francesco Imperiale at Rome...This Francesco Imperiale is an exceeding fine fellow and is much fitter for this work than Solimena who from his age is fallen from his form Virtu. This Francesco Imperiale cannot set about the picture to K. George till towards Christmas. I shall send him the perspectives of it done in a most Noble & Most Elegant antique style by the Two Brothers Sig Valeriani'. The final reference to the picture in McSwiny's correspondence is in a letter dated 1st October 1729: '...I sett out this day for Rome. K. George will be sent after. prospective prodigiosly well done by ye two Valeriani's & Cimaroli, & I'm persuaded ye Figures will be answerable for I have pitched upon Francessco Imperiale'.
This and the other remaining paintings arrived soon afterwards at Goodwood and were duly installed in the dining room. Their precise arrangement is known through a detailed description provided by George Vertue who saw them there in 1747, the present picture hanging in its intended location at the end of the room. They remained there until the room was redecorated in the Regency style at the end of the 18th Century, and the paintings are now widely dispersed: Birmingham, Barber Institute (Devonshire 'monument'); British Embassy, Rome (Wharton and Addison 'monuments'); H.R.H. Duke of Kent (King William III 'monument'); private collection (Tillotson 'monument'), private collection, offered New York, Sotheby's, 30th January 1998, lot 107 (Cadogan and Godolphin 'monuments'); Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia (Stanhope 'monument'); and sold London, Sotheby's, 14th May 1958, lot 46 (Dorset 'monument').
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