Attr. John Inigo Richards, R.A.
A View of a Garden Pavilionlate, 1730s or early 1740s
Anon. Sale; Sotheby’s, London, 24 Nov. 2005, lot 77 (as ‘Attr. Samuel Wale, R.A.’)
Private Collection, U.K.
This charming rustic view depicts a folly or orangery within the grounds of an English private garden. It may have belonged to a series of related pictures, each depicting a different aspect or building within the grounds of the estate. The figure depicted in the lower right corner, wearing a tricorn hat and surveying the scene, his hand on his hip in a proprietary manner, is probably the master of the estate; he appears to be a country squire rather than a member of the aristocracy, according to John Harris. The smartly-dressed woman in the background, gesturing to a gardener carrying a potted topiary, is presumably his wife. The scene is further enlivened by additional gardeners, one carrying a ladder, and a black servant with a spaniel.
We are grateful to Brian Allen for suggesting a possible attribution to John Inigo Richards (e-mail communication, 19 May 2014). Mr. Allen believes this picture dates from the 1740s. John Harris also suggests a date in the 1730s or 1740s (written communication, 16 March 2006). Prof. Aileen Ribeiro has identified the figures’ clothing as belonging to the late 1730s or early 1740s (e-mail communication, 19 May 2014). Mr. Duncan Robinson has suggested a slightly earlier date, possibly in the 1720s. The Neoclassical building depicted has not yet been identified, although the profile portrait shown in relief on the pediment appears to represent Queen Anne (reigned 1702 – 1714).
Richards was a founding member of the Royal Academy, where from 1769 to 1809 he exhibited capricci and topographical views. He was frequently employed to records the grounds of country houses. Like his contemporary Francis Hayman, Richards achieved success as a scene painter at Covent Garden, and from 1777 to 1803 he was the theatre’s Principal Painter. In 1788, Richards was elected Secretary of the Royal Academy, a post he held until his death.