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Capriccio of an Imaginary Formal Garden and House

Robert Robinson

Oil on canvas

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: Chile
    City: Santiago
    Place: British Embassy

    The foreground of this imaginary scene is dominated by a spectacular fountain, which includes sculpted horses with water pouring from their mouths and two naked figures seated on an urn, with a central fountain of water raining over them. The fountain is part of a formal garden of planted beds divided by a geometric pattern of pathways. In the centre of the composition, two rows of tall cedar trees are either side of a path, which leads to a large house in the distance.

    Several versions of this painting are known: one, which was purchased from the sale of Tal-y-coed Court in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, is now owned by the National Museums of Wales and is on display at St Fagans Castle, Cardiff (part of St Fagans National History Museum). Another version is among the panels in the Painted Room at Carshalton House in Surrey (now St Philomena's Catholic High School for Girls). Others were sold through Christie's, London, in 1983, 1988 and 1992. All the versions include similarly positioned fountains, main avenues with cedar trees to either side, a house in the distance and similar formal gardens. However, they differ considerably in detail, with particular diversity in the designs of the houses and fountains.

  • About the artist
    Robert Robinson worked in London from 1674. On 12 May that year he became a freeman of the Painter Stainer's Company, marking the beginning of his career. By 1695 he was living in Fleet Street with his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Samuel and Sarah. Samuel became one of several apprentices that Robinson took on. Many of his paintings are capriccios or chinoiseries, such as the painted panels for No. 5 Botolph Lane (now St John Cass School, Aldgate) and (probably) panels for the Painted Room in Carshalton House, Surrey (1690s). However, he was primarily a scene painter, although little of his work in this area is now known. In March 1700 he began work on scenery for Settle’s opera ‘The Virgin Prophetess’, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
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  • Details
    Title
    Capriccio of an Imaginary Formal Garden and House
    Date
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 90.50 cm, width: 117.70 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Appleby Bros, October 1949
    GAC number
    940