Forward British 19th C, except portraits, Wales: Artists and Subjects 60 Could this be by Penry Williams (1802–1885)?

Topic: Artist

Penry Williams spent most of his working life in Rome, becoming one of the leading painters of Roman views with local figures in traditional costume. This is close to his works on Art UK and elsewhere.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Well spotted, Martin. This looks extremely convincing, particularly relevant comparisons are' A Distant View of St Peter's', 'Temple of Hercules Victor...', and the studies of pairs of figures (many with a tambourine!). Certainly worth proposing an attribution to Williams.

Jacinto Regalado,

Williams settled in Rome in 1827, so the date of "early 19th century" in the Art UK entry should be amended.

Martin Hopkinson,

RA 1828 no 246 View of Rome from the Barbarini [sic] Gardens

Barbara Bryant,

Going with the popular idea that this painting is likely to be by Penry Williams, Andrew referred to one picture with a view of Rome at the Victoria Art Gallery This seems to show the view from the Villa Medici. The National Trust's picture under discussion here could well be Williams's Royal Academy 1828, View of Rome from the Barberini Gardens, mentioned by Martin. Here's Turner's sketch from the gardens for comparison:

Kieran Owens,

This painting was executed from a vantage point on the far-left-hand-side of the Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, which is in front of the church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti and just above Rome's famous Spanish Steps. It shows a view that looks slightly south from east to west. Judging by the shadows of the man standing at the top of the staircase and of the two girls in the centre of the piece, it is around late evening time, just before sunset.

The building on the left-hand-side of the painting is the Palazzo Zuccari, showing its distinctive right-angled pedestals and its balcony and balustrade before being covered over (see attached photograph).

As shown in the second attachment, from left to right the significant landmarks are the long facade of what is now the Palazzo di Giustizia / Palace of Justice, behind which sits the circular top of the Mausoleum of Hadrian, also known as Castel Sant'Angelo, and behind it in turn sits St. Peter's Basilica.

To the right of these three buildings is the clearly-presented facade of the basilica church of Saints Ambrose & Charles Borromeo (or Sant'Ambrogio e San Carlos in Italian).

If the above is accepted, the painting is not, therefore, Penry Williams' Royal Academy 1828 'View of Rome from the Barberini Gardens', and nor does it fit the description of any other painting that he exhibited at the RA between 1822 and 1869. However, many of his views of Rome and other Italian subjects were either commissioned by or sold directly to collectors during the many visits that they paid to his studio over his many decades of residence in Rome. For instance, as part of his 1934 bequest to Bath City Council, was Mr. Newton Fuller's painting of Penry Williams' 'A Distant View of St. Peter's, Rome'.

Does the National Trust, Antony, known when this discussion's painting entered their collection?

Kieran Owens,

Barbara is correct above when she states that the painting at the Victoria Art Gallery is a view of St. Peter's etc as seen from the Villa Medici. The fountain in the paining is unquestionably from that vantage point. (See attachment). This means that the Victoria Art Gallery's description of their painting as being 'A Distant View of Saint Peter's Rome' might be correct, but it is not the painting that was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828. In fact, the painting exhibited in 1828 was the above-mentioned 'View of Rome from the Barberini Gardens', that place being located at just under a kilometre to the south east of the Villa Medici.

Osmund Bullock,

Well done, Kieran. I’d drawn most of the same conclusions as you, but failed to identify the Palazzo Zuccari. On a composite Google Earth image I also drew an approximate line-of-sight based on the features in the painting, and I wasn't far out. I'm attaching it anyway since it's already done, and I've now added the Palazzo's position - it's fairly zoomable.

For various reasons I’d wrongly concluded that the painting’s viewpoint was further up the hill, probably near Sant´Isidoro a Capo le Case (a church and monastery which when temporarily dissolved 1810-20 was the Roman home for artists of the German Nazarene movement); or possibly even further back – somewhere within the huge (87 acre) estate of the Villa Ludovisi, which had various smaller lodges within it, and remained undeveloped until the 1880s.

However, there is no doubt whatever that you have found the right spot. Here are two high views of the piazza & palazzo in 1930-40 (the view of Rome by now long obscured), showing the right-sweeping branch as you near the top of the Spanish Steps, and from which the female figure on the right of the painting is emerging – the man with cloak and stick is leaning on the parapet at the top of the steps: & . And here are two views of the palazzo before the balcony was covered, one from 1830 and the other “c.1780” (but from the clothes worn I think rather later) . The first image I can find of it *with* the roof is in this photo of c.1859

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Kieran Owens,

Those are great images, Osmund. Judging from the high arial view of the Palazzo Zuccari - - it should not have been possible for the artist, standing to the left of the entrance columns, to see the line of building that included the Palazzo di Giustizia, the Mausoleum of Hadrian and the St. Peter's Basilica, given the position of the buildings to the right-hand-side of those columns. However, the attached image, shows that the identified building was constructed in 1888 (MDCCCLXXXVIII). This suggests that at the latest our discussion's painting was completed before 1888.

However, your photo of c.1859 (if it is that early) shows the left corner of the bow-faced building, which is also absent from our discussion's painting, and thus, if that photograph's date is correct, the work must date from before this time too.

A question to be answered is when was this bow-faced building constructed.

If our work is by Penry Williams, then it might well form part of a series of paintings completed, in and around this side of the Tiber, between his arrival in Rome, his painting of the Royal Academy's 1828 'View of Rome from the Barberini Gardens'.

Kieran Owens,

The above attachment should read "1888 date evidence"

Kieran Owens,

In the edition of 'L'Album', published in Rome on the 8th March 1856, in an article entitled "Anthology of Various Inscriptions Carved in Stone and Written on the Walls in Various Parts of Rome', the following is included: "Nel nuove casamento sul Pincio a rimpetto del quartiere accento all Chiesa della SSma Trinita e'Monti - Purior hic aer late hic prospectus in urbem."

This translates as "In the new building on the Pincian Hill, in the area in front of the Church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti (is the phrase) - Purior hic aer late hic prospectus in urbem". This latin phrase roughly translates as "Purer here the air whence we overlook the city". The phrase can also be found inscribed on a stone in the via Trento in Florence.

This wording can still be seen on the front of this building, the one with the bowed facade facing on the the left side of the top of the Spanish Steps, looking east to west. (See attachment).

To be described as a "new building" in 1856 means that is was probably built a year of two before this article was published. This puts our painting's date at no later than c.1854/1855.

Kieran Owens,

The attached composite, which juxtaposes our discussion's painting with a c.1780's drawing the Palazzo Zuccari, by Gabriele Ricciardelli, shows that our artist must have still used a certain degree of artistic licence when depicting the Palazzo Zuccari as standing at right angles to an uninterrupted view to the west over Rome. The low buildings to the right of the Piazza, as shown in the 1780's work, must surely have been an obstruction to that artist's sightline. Unless of course these billings had been demolished at the time (1828 and c.1856) of this work's completion.

Kieran Owens,

It might be worth noting that, from 1829 until at least 1833, Penry Williams was living at No. 1, Vicolo dei Greci del Balbuino, an area bordered by via del Babuino e via dei Greci, and only a few metres north west of the Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Piazza, at the bottom of the Spanish steps).

Also, from as early as 1835 until at least 1869, Williams lived at number No. 12, Piazza Mignanelli, which, as can be seen from this Google Maps links, lies at the bottom of the Rampa Mignanelli, behind the Palazzo Zuccari.

For almost all of his time in Rome, therefore, Williams lived in the very area, and for many years right beside, where the Palazzo Zuccari stands.

Significantly, perhaps, No 12, Piazza Mignanelli is also the address where Charles Lock Eastlake was living at the time that J. M. W. Turner took lodgings with him during his visit to Rome in August 1828 and was probably where Turner resided until the 3rd January 1829, at which date he departed Rome for the last time.

The address, therefore, has quite an important association with a number of English artists living in Rome during the early and middle years of the 19th century. A informative biographical note, in Italian, on Williams' life can be see here, in which his addresses and associates in Rome are mentioned:

A loose translation of the relevant part that relates to his early days in Rome reads as follows:

"In 1826 Penry Williams left for Italy, but arrived only in mid-November. In fact, he had spent five weeks in Switzerland, where, moving largely on foot, he executed numerous studies of landscapes and peasants; works that prefigure those that will become the canonical themes of his painting: the landscape and the figure, the latter represented, almost exclusively, by shepherds and peasants drawn from the world of the Roman Campagna.

"Once in Rome he went to live at No. 1, Alley of the Greeks (Vicolo dei Greci), in the same house where there are the studios of Vincenzo and Pietro Camuccini. With the good offices of Lawrence he soon came into contact with the English artistic colony, in particular with the painters Augustus Wall Callcott, Charles Eastlake and the sculptor Joseph Gott."

Kieran Owens,

Page 82 of Jousiffe's 1840 edition of 'A Road-book for Travellers in Italy' lists both Eastlake and Williams, as English Historical Painters, as living at 12, Piazza Mignanelli, and also lists Williams (presuming that it is not a different painter with the same surname), as an English Landscape Painter, as living (or perhaps having his studio) at 1, vicolo Gesú e Maria.

Kieran Owens,

Regarding the identity of the painter of this picture, attached is a composite featuring it (top left) and three other known works by Penry Williams, all of which, for comparison, feature goats.

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I think we can confidently attribute this to Penry Williams and propose a more specific title, such as 'View of Rome from in front of the Palazzo Zuccari' or 'View of Rome from the Piazza della Trinità dei Monti'.

However before concluding, it would be great to find a more specific date than 'probably between 1827 and 1855'.

To save anyone else looking, none of Williams' few British Institution exhibits seem to be identifiable as this one.

Kieran Owens,

Andrew, perhaps your two suggestions could be amalgamated to 'View of Rome from in front of the Palazzo Zuccari on the Piazza della Tinità Dei Monti'.

Barbara Bryant,

This isn't my discussion, but I just wanted to say that it was a very interesting one, with lots of great topographical research. Well done to Kieran and the other commentators!

Kieran Owens,

Oh dear! Just when everything seemed so certain....

On page 235 of the 21st April 2006 edition of 'Stenna dei Romanisti', in an article by Pier Andrea de Rosa, entitled 'Pittori inglesi Roma nell'Ottocento: John Newbolt', an illustration almost identical in every detail of its composition appears, under the title of 'Trinità dei Monti con Palazzo Zuccari. The painting is described as being an oil on canvas, and as being 73cm x 113cm.

A rough translation of the specific reference to the painting reads as follows (comments in brackets are my additions):

"From 1840 is the large-format oil painting, 73cm x 113cm, 'View of Rome from Trinità dei Monti'. Although the view from this very pleasant site is a recurrent theme in Roman painting, the painting by Newbolt is characterized by the unusual accentuated angle on the left that includes the Zuccari palace loggia, which was added in the early eighteenth century, perhaps by Philip Juvarra for Mary Casimira of Poland.

"From this vantage point, as in the painting, there was a spectacular view of the eternal city that would have been lost forever during the fifth decade of the nineteenth century, when the area directly overlooking the loggia, which in the painting appears to be bounded by a wall covered with greenery and with two trees, was ceded in emphyteusis (the legal right, susceptible of assignment and of descent, charged on productive real estate, the right being coupled with the enjoyment of the property on condition of taking care of the estate and paying taxes and sometimes a small rent) by the poor friars of the Trinità dei Monti to the (Swedish sculptor Johan Niklas) Bystrom, who proceeded to erect a building that had been modified several times, and above all raised over time.

Bystrom......had for a long time been studying and living in the turret of the adjoining Villa Malta, which he owned, and perhaps from the proceeds of the sale of that villa to Ludwig of Wittelsbach, hereditary prince and future Ludwig I of Bavaria, was able to proceed with the construction of the new building that was to benefit from the view enjoyed by Palazzo Zuccari but that the Swedish sculptor did not have the pleasure of admiring, having died in March 1848.

"The painting, purchased in 1977 from the Bibliotheque Hertziana (which is housed in the Palazzo Zuccari) on the Roman antiquarian market, and since then cloistered in the offices of the management, appeared fleetingly in public during the 5th National Exhibition of Antiques at the Rome Fair in 1980.

"In very recent times, and on the kind communication of Dr. Johannes Roll, we have come to know another draft of the work that is absolutely the same if not for the massive female figure at the center of the portico, transformed, with rapid 'maquillage' (re-painting?), into a mendicant friar.

"Of the work, at the moment in an unknown location, only the black and white reproduction of the book by Anthony to be found on the cover of his 'A Sabine Journey to Rome in Holy Year'.

The painting referred to here is that of this discussion. See link:

This article and the extraordinary similarity of the relevant illustration to this discussion's painting, including the two ladies standing with the parasol on the Palazzo's balcony, raises the question as to whether this discussion's painting is also by John Newbolt (London, 1805 - Rome, 1887) or whether Newbolt was a copyist of Penry William's works. A search for other images by Newbolt reveals a very similar painting style and choice of subjects as Williams.

Kieran Owens,

For clarity's sake, here is composite of our discussion's painting with that of John Newbolt's 1840's 'Roma da Trinità dei Monti con Palazzo Zuccari'. At the very least, it dates our discussion's composition to a period before 1840 if Newbolt's canvas is a copy of William's original. However, our discussion's painting might date from after 1840 if Williams copied Newbolt.

There are some obvious differences in the depiction of the foliage, with Newbolt's painting showing more densely developed growth of the most obvious tree and the vegetation growing over the low central wall, so maybe Newbolt's 1840 painting comes after that of this discussion's. Alternatively, if they are both by Newbolt, then the date of our discussion's painting is possibly prior to the 1840 work.

Osmund Bullock,

Well done again, Kieran. I've had a number of things to say on several of your information-rich posts - clarifications, additions and even a few errors I'd like to correct in an ideal world - but every time I research and start composing something, I find you've added another three posts to digest and react to, and the moment has passed! I've now got half-a-dozen abandoned half-written posts in my file...but I will nevertheless try and slip something in now - fingers crossed I can finish it quickly enough!

You don't mention the most obvious difference between our painting and that bought in 1977 by (not from) the Bibliotheque Hertziana (and illustrated in the article linked to): the group of sitting goats has been shifted well to the right in the composition, and the left hand standing one has been replaced by two human figures, one with a tambourine. The proportions of the two paintings are different, too, and of course ours is less than half the size of the one owned by the library.

Osmund Bullock,

Also, despite both (apparently) having the stout woman in the porch transformed by a rapid ‘maquillage’ (make-up job) into a mendicant friar (or was it the other way round?), our painting is certainly *not* the one on the book cover – at least not if that colour version is the same as the “black-and-white reproduction” mentioned in the article. I think it probably is, as the article says it is otherwise “absolutely identical” to the Bibliotheque Hertziana version, and as you can see in the attached composite of the same (very small, alas) detail in all three images, it does appear to be...unless, of course, the colour version now on the book cover was in fact taken from the BH painting! It would be good to see the back of the book, which presumably carries the image further left, and might just include the woman/friar in the porch – if it doesn’t, we’ll need to ask the BH in Rome if we can see an image of theirs.

Our version, however, is noticeably different to the other two (or one) – if two, then we actually have *three* different versions of much the same painting. Does this make ours more likely to be by Newbolt too, or less? I’m inclined to think more, as such substantial alterations to the composition and figures – especially the change of a goat to two people – are arguably less commonly found in copies.

This is certainly a very interesting turn of events! I have emailed the Bibliotheca Hertziana and the Penguin Random House Archive (publisher of A Sabine Journey) about the Newbolt painting.

Both library and Penguin have responded magnificently. Thanks to both. The library image requires a form to be filled in so I attach the book cover first, which crops the painting on the right and slightly on the other three sides. Both images seem to be identical down to the smallest visible brushstroke so must be the same painting - EXCEPT for the friar on the bookcover and lady at the palace door in the library image. I suggest it was changed while on the art market in the 1970s, presumably to make it fractionally more saleable.

I feel that Williams copied Newbolt, adding his trademark picturesque figures, e.g. the peasants with tambourine, as noted before. It would be interesting to explore if more of his Roman views were based on the work of others.

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Kieran Owens,

It would appear that the black and white reproduction mentioned above and the cover of the book are the same work, and that our discussion's one, while extraordinarily similar, does have significant detail difference. On the book cover, the two ladies on the balcony look far more assuredly painted, as the face of the little girl, being held in the arms of the woman on the left, has more defined features. There are colouration differences, too, as can be seen in these he ladies' outfits. Also, the mendicant friar wears a black or blue skull-cap in our painting, while the book cover shows him in a red one. His alms-giver wears a dark blouse in our painting whereas she has a white shawl on in the other work. Most importantly, as Osmond has pointed out, the two girls with the tambourine in our piece, and gone in the other, and group of goats in that painting, although identical in almost every way, have been moved to the left. And as mentioned above, the foliage at the edge of the piazza is more developed in the cover image that is in tat of this discussion.

As for picturesque figures, a search for works by Newbolt shows just as many in his various works as can be found in Williams' ones.

Given the very detailed similarity between the known Newbolt of the book cover and this discussion's work, is it not more likely that, rather than the latter being a copy by another artist, they are more likely to be variations on a theme by the one artist, in this case John Newbolt?

Why would an eminent artist like Penry Williams (1802 - 1885) have been copying in such exacting detail the works of the rather lesser-known John Newbolt (1805 - 1887). Nothing that I have read to date of the former suggests that he ever copied another artist's work or that he was anything less than an original painter.

Kieran Owens,

Sorry Osmund, please accept my apologies. The dreaded spelling corrector has changed your name yet again.

Kieran Owens,

Andrew, as I cannot see any artist's name on the book-cover canvas, through your correspondence with the Bibliotheque Hertziana please be so kind as to ask them if their painting is signed. If it is not, there is a possibility that, at the time of its sale in 1977, it was mis-identified as a work by Newbolt, whereas it, like our painting, might actually be by Williams.

Kieran Owens,

Also, as our painting is 35cm x 45cm and the BH's painting is 73cm x 113cm, is there any possibility that the smaller could have been a preparatory work for the larger one?

Osmund Bullock,

Andrew, were Penguin Random House Archive able to say where they got their cover image from? I would expect them to have sought clearance before using it - or to have known that the photo of the painting was copyright-free - and in either case this would imply a knowledge of its origins/whereabouts.

I assume from your certainty that the Bibliotheque Hertziana version is identical, down to the smallest brushstrokes, that you have already seen a clear image of it. If so, then your suggestion that they are in fact the same painting, with the monk quite recently changed to a woman, must be right. On the other hand I lean towards (but only slightly) the idea that the same artist is responsible for both works.

But if so, is ours a rougher preliminary study, stretched sideways in the large finished version to create a more elegant architectural panorama, and with distractions like the foreground human figures and the mob of foraging goats behind removed...or a much smaller version (with necessarily less fine detail), the composition slightly squashed, produced for an English grand tourist wanting something compact to take home, and to which some changes were made to make it a busier, 'friendlier' scene? I can't make up my mind.

Kieran Owens,

Sorry, too much eggnog. "In case it becomes.....".

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, Newbolt (aka Newbott and Newbold) was certainly in the business that you suggest. The 1864 (7th) edition of John Murray's 'Handbook of Rome and Its Environs' carried the following entry"

"Newbold (sic), Via del Bambino Gesu, Palazzo Volpata, an English landscape-painter, whose studio will enable the traveller to supply himself with faithful reminiscences of Roman scenery at very reasonable prices."

In his 1848 'Catalogue of Pictures in the Possession of Beriah Botfield, Esq., at Norton Hall' Botfield gives a list of 14 works he owned by Newbolt. These mainly date from the mid-1840s, and give an interesting range of sizes.

Osmund Bullock,

Yet more interesting discoveries, Kieran, thank you - but what a pity that none of the sizes really matches ours.

Of only peripheral interest now, but it suddenly strikes me that it was probably the erection of the mid-1850s circular-bay building that triggered the enclosing and roofing over of the balcony atop the Palazzino Zuccari's portico (both first seen in the c.1859 photo). It was clearly rather decrepit, and like most flat roofs doubtless leaked - once its view of Rome had been lost there was little point in keeping it open.

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, from the above-referenced Catalogue of Beriah Botfield's collection, it shows that, of Newbolt's paintings, six were 2'5" x 3'1.5"; six were either 1'3" x 1'11" or else 1'4" x 1'10"; and two were 2'2" x 2'8".

If the b/w image of Newbolt's 1840 painting, as reprinted in Pier Andrea de Rosa's article, is the same as that on the book cover, albeit with changes to the monk/woman at the door of the Palazzo, then surely, at 73cm x 113cm (2'4'/ 3'7"), its size matches closely enough to the 2'5" 3'1.5" size mentioned in the Catalogue.

Additionally, this discussion's painting is 1'2" x 1'5" which is not too far off the 1'3" x 1'11" size.

Osmund Bullock,

I'm not quite as generous as you with my definitions of "closely enough" and "not too far off"! But I agree that they are in vaguely the same ballpark.

I think some of your cm>inch translations are a bit wobbly, and you've misread the width of the three smallest Botfield ones, which is in fact just 11". Turning them on their side you get 11" x 15" versus our 13¾" x 17¾" - 25% more one way, 18% more the other. For the big size, it's 29" x 37½" versus our (or the Library's) 28¾" x 44½" - very close one way, but nearly 19% more the other.

I don't think these figures are close enough to be any sort of evidence of them coming from the same studio, but neither do they preclude it; and they do very usefully demonstrate that Newbolt's Italian scenes were definitely painted on both large and small scales.

A technical detail which I don't think has yet been picked up in comparing the Herziana image with the painting under discussion, and changes their compositional emphasis: while the architectural perspective of the villa on the left is practically identical, the artist's viewpoint as regards the cityscape beyond is clearly lower in the former, as shown by the less dramatic comparative heights of buildings and the more flattened curve of the low roadway parapet wall, centre right. The effect is to make the city a more vertically compressed 'horizon-band' back-scene in the former, emphasizing the foreground, but in the latter a rather more significant element in the overall view. Whether that might bear on which came first (whoever by), I have no idea.

Kieran Owens,

Osmund - Yikes!!! I must stop contributing when I should actually be asleep. Thank you for pointing out the error. I am mortified at having made such a mistake. However.... if the BH work dates from 1840 and the Botfields are mainly from the mid-1840s, it could be that Newbolt simply changed the format of the canvases upon which he was working over a five-year-or-more period.

A search for Newbolt's works online shows a wide range of canvas and paper sizes, so I am not sure that a focus on this detail will reveal any useful result.

All of the technicalities aside, the most obvious question, as posed above, still remains to be answered. Is it more likely that one artist made a smaller preparatory work, possibly exploring the very compositional questions that Pieter raises above, and then resolved these by producing the larger work, or that one one professional artist, working in the same city at the same time as another, would copy, in almost slavish detail, the compositional elements that appear in the original work, thus perhaps threatening by plagiarism the artistic reputation of that copyist? Personally I am more inclined to the former view, and suggest that our discussion's work is probably by Newbolt rather than being by Williams.

Kieran Owens,

In the immediately above regard, it might be worth noting the footnote to the sale in 2007 at Bonhams of the following work by Newbolt:

"John (Newbott) Newbolt (British, 1805-1867) - 'View of Nemi'; signed; inscribed and dated 'J. Newbolt. Roma. 1845' (lower right)' inscribed on a label attached to reverse 'Lake and town of Nemi/Newbolt' / oil on canvas / 49 x 72 cm (19 1/4 x 28 1/4 in.). A similar version of the present lot was sold at Christies, London on 10th March 1995, lot 86, 32 x 48 cm. (12.6 x 18.9 in.)"

Here, at least, is one example of Newbolt presenting the same view in two different sizes of canvas.

The Bonhams painting could well be the same as that owned and catalogued by Botfield as "View o the lake and Town of Nemi, in the Alban Hills', signed 'J. Newbolt, Rome, 1845", H. 2ft 5in, W. 3ft 1 and 1/2", unless, of course, Newbolt produced a third version of the same scene.

In May 2000, Christies also sold a similar view of Nemi by Newbolt, signed and inscribed 'Newbolt/Rome' (lower right) as an oil on canvas of 16" x 25" (15½ x 63.5 cm).

The attached rather pixelated composite still quite clearly shows that Newbolt was painting the same scene, though with different elements within the different canvases (as here, on the left, with the inclusion of man leading the lady on the donkey). This suggests that he was producing multiples of the same views for that tourist market mentioned in one of the posting above. I believe that this strengthens the argument that our painting is one such a work, and is a variation by Newbolt on the theme as found in the BH black and white image and, if it is not the same as the latter, as on the above-referenced book cover.

Kieran Owens,

A rough translation of one Italian biographical note reads:

"He (Newbolt) arrived in Rome in 1828, where he resided in Via Sistina and, from 1853, in the Via dei Cappuccini, where, according to old tourist guides, he was active as a landscape and "views" artist. At the beginning of the 1830s he married Anna Votieri, sister of the sculptor Vincenzo. In 1856 he exhibited at the annual exhibition of the 'Societa degli Amatori e Cultori delle Belle Arti (Rome)' a 'View of Monterano' and in 1868 at the Royal Academy. The Museum of Rome holds his 'View of Rome from the Villa Malta'.

This is a link to the photographic and painting archive of the Bibliotheca Herziana in the Palazzo Zuccari. This owns the painting by Newbolt of 1840 (spelled Newbott in their catalogue). The black and white photo is the clearest. It also illustrates a photo of what must be study for the painting by Newbolt of 1839, without many of the figures, which is or was in the Palazzo di Venezia, Rome. The existence of a study and a finished painting by Newbolt suggests to me that his was the original composition. I can see no signature on the high res images accessible on the website above.

A low res colour image is attached here. Credit: Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History, Rome.

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Barbara Bryant,

Although not my group (and I bow to Andrew's decision), this long running discussion with so much good information from Kieran and others looks to be reasonably solved. I'll just add to the story of John Newbolt, British artist in Rome, with a painting I saw on my hols in Wurzburg at the Martin von Wagner Museum, part of the University there. Thanks to the recent Art Detective discussion, it was clear the work labelled as by "Newbott" was by none other than our expatriate artist.

The painting attached shows Nepi near Viterbo, a picturesque site near Rome on the itinerary of many travellers, including JMW Turner. It would seem that the work by Newbolt was part of the collection of Johann Martin von Wagner (1777-1858), an artist and archaeologist who spent time in Rome. There was no signature on the painting but I expect the specific title means it is inscribed on the reverse.

So is the resolution here Newbolt or Williams, or Williams (however uncharacteristically) following what appears to have been a more repeated subject by Newbolt?

Kieran Owens,

I would have imagined that there was sufficiently strong evidence to choose Newbolt, as there is nothing that specifically supports an attribution to Williams other than a vague stylistic and thematic similarity of approaches, which I presume would have been the initial prompt to suggest him at all.

Jacinto Regalado,

Or rather, could the picture linked in my preceding comment be by the same artist who painted the picture under discussion?

Kieran Owens,

It has yet to be decided whether this painting was painted by Williams or Newbolt, so to which of the two might you be referring, or perhaps you have no preference? On your linked image, perhaps a more scrupulous examination of the canvas for a signature would be worthwhile.

Jacinto Regalado,

The colouring seems closer to that of Williams than what I have seen by Newbolt, though it could be by another British artist working in Italy. I could not identify a signature on the Art UK image.

Kieran Owens,

Do you not believe that these two paintings are by the same artist? Could such a slavish copy of Newbolt's style have been by another painter (or even visa versa), especially in the placement of all of the principal characters, including the identical group of five goats ?

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Jacinto Regalado,

My preceding comment was referring to the Lake Como painting I linked from Southampton.

Kieran Owens,

Now understood, but perhaps you should open a fresh discussion on the Lake Como painting rather than raising the question here. By doing so it might avoid any additional confusion.

Jacinto Regalado,

I mentioned it here because of a certain pictorial/compositional similarity to the painting under discussion, which I found of interest, but if it is not considered relevant, it may simply be ignored.

This has been a long and interesting discussion with some difficult issues to resolve. Despite numerous comparable examples of similar and related works by Penry Williams and John Newbolt, I don't believe the choice between them is an easy or obvious one to make.

In my opinion however, the balance of probability lies with John Newbolt being the author of the painting under discussion and I would recommend that it is described as 'Attributed to John Newbolt (1805-1887)'.

Please support your comments with evidence or arguments.

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