This painting shows a view from Posillipo, the hill which forms a peninsula separating the Bay of Naples from Pozzuoli Bay. The scene looks south towards the Bay of Naples. To the left the monastery of San Martino (now a museum), can be seen perched on Vomero hill.
At least four other versions of this painting by William Marlow are known to exist. Marlow painted the area around Naples more frequently than any other location. Sketches made on site were probably used by the artist to produce albums of pen and ink drawings, from which clients could select a composition for a painting. A pen and ink drawing of this particular view is within an album by Marlow in the Tate collection.
Between 1765 and 1766 Marlow toured through France and Italy, visiting Florence, Rome and Naples and making numerous drawings. These studies would serve him for the rest of his life in the production of oil paintings of French and Italian views. Throughout the 18th century Naples’ was famed as one of the most fascinating European cities, owing to the beauty of the Bay (today irrevocably changed by industrialisation) and the captivating ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii nearby.
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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