This remarkably accurate depiction of the River Thames and the town of Twickenham, seen from the brow of Richmond Hill, is by painter and draughtsman Peter Tillemans. The most notable difference to how the actual view would have appeared in the early 1720s is the bend in the river, which the artist has made more symmetrical to give greater balance to the painting.
Richmond was a favourite place for wealthy gentlemen to build their houses and many of those built during the 18th century still survive to this day. In his ‘Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain’ (published in three volumes between 1724 and 1726), Daniel Defoe described Richmond as ‘a most agreeable retreat for the first and second rate gentry, with a great deal of the best company in England’.
This painting was commissioned by art collector John Robartes (1686-1757; later fourth Earl of Radnor), who lived at Radnor House, by the Thames, near Twickenham. Tillemans painted at least three other works for Robartes, including ‘The View from One-Tree Hill in Greenwich Park’, ‘A Prospect of Twickenham’ and a ‘View of Richmond from Twickenham Park’ (now also in the Government Art Collection).
Peter Tillemans was born in Antwerp; the son of a diamond cutter. He was brought to England by a picture dealer in 1708, where he soon made a name for himself and became a founding member of Godfrey Kneller’s Academy. In 1724 he collaborated with Joseph Goupy on scenery for Haymarket Opera House. He also produced some 500 topographical drawings for historian John Bridges. In the early 1720s he painted horse or racing scenes and views of the Thames. He was a member of the Rose and Crown Club and the Society of the Virtuosi of St Luke. His versatility is demonstrated by the range of work he painted for Dr Cox Macro, including battle scenes, landscapes, hunting scenes and portraits. He died, aged about 50, while staying with Macro in Suffolk.
Purchased from the 12th Duke of St Albans via Leggatt Bros, August 1955
On label removed from frame: View from Richmond [Hill] / painted for the Lord Radnor, fr[om] / his house, Lady Mary Wortley Montague [sic] on horseback / introduced[?] / P. Tillemans / 1684 - 17[illegible]
Commissioned by John Robartes, 4th Earl of Radnor (1686-1757) of Radnor House, Twickenham; collection of Richard Owen Cambridge (1717-1802), Cambridge House, Twickenham; by descent to Archdeacon George Owen Cambridge (1756-1841); by whom sold through Christie's, London, on 11 May 1824 (Lot 98), for £42.0.0; from which sale purchased by Bursby (or Burnby); collection of George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland (1786-1861); collection of Osborne Beauclerk, 12th Duke of St Albans (1874-1964) by 1950; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works via Leggatt Bros. in 1955
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