View of Vesuvius

  • About the work
    Country: Italy
    City: Rome
    Place: British Embassy

    Marlow left England for Italy in July 1765, arriving in Naples later that year. He visited Venice, Florence, Rome, the Campagna and Naples, remaining in Italy for about a year. He made sketches throughout this time, including several of Naples and its environs. Vesuvius was one of the highlights of his tour and this painting is probably based on one of his many drawings of the area (seven of which were sold through Christie’s, London, in 1987). Marlow’s Italian drawings were worked up in pen and ink before being shown to patrons in England, who could order versions in oil or watercolour.

    The majority of these paintings were undoubtedly purchased by gentlemen returning from the Grand Tour, who had visited Vesuvius during their travels. However, an obituary stated that Marlow had travelled to Italy on the advice of Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Northumberland (of Alnwick Castle, Syon House, and Northumberland House) and this is supported by the eight paintings showing Tivoli, Arriccia and scenes in the Bay of Naples by Marlow which remain in the collection at Alnwick Castle today.

    Marlow exhibited his views of landscapes near Naples at the Society of British Artists from 1767 until the 1780s and at the Royal Academy in 1792 and 1795.

  • About the artist
    Landscapist William Marlow was born in London or Southwark. He trained in the studio of marine painter Samuel Scott in Covent Garden (1756-61) and is also thought to have studied at the St Martin’s Lane Academy. Marlow spent his early career travelling around England in search of subjects; painting English country houses and the areas around Twickenham, Richmond, and the lower banks of the Thames. On the advice of the Duchess of Northumberland he travelled to France and Italy (1765-66). He exhibited at the Society of Artists, becoming Vice-President in 1778, and at the Royal Academy. Marlow lived for a time in Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square). His one pupil was John Curtis. In c.1785 he retired to Twickenham, where he died aged 72.
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  • Details
    View of Vesuvius
    Oil on canvas
    height: 61.50 cm, width: 92.00 cm
    Purchased from Spink & Son, November 1955
    With Spink; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in November 1955
    GAC number