Classical Landscape with Gypsies

Artist: James Wootton (ca. 1686–1765)

Date: 1748

Culture: British

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 55-1/4 x 51-3/8 in. (140.3 x 130.5 cm)

Classification: Paintings-Decorative

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1931

Accession Number: 32.53.2


This painting, signed and dated 1748, was made as an overmantel for the dining room of Kirtlington Park, built by Sir James Dashwood. In a ledger he titled "A Generall Account of Money Expended on my New-house, and the outworks about it, begun 12: September: 1741" [photocopy in departmental files], Dashwood recorded a payment on March 27, 1749 to Wootton, presumably for this picture. The amount is large, over fifty pounds, indicating that Wootton's popularity among the nobility enabled him to set his prices as he wished. A watercolor of 1876 by Susan Alice Dashwood (MMA 1993.28; see Images) depicts the dining room of Kirtlington Park with this painting above the fireplace at left. The picture remained in place until 1931, when the entire room was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum.

Two similar classical landscapes, Morning and Evening, were painted by Wootton for Sir John Shelley of Maresfield Park, Sussex (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven). Arline Meyer [see Ref. 1984] mentions a small, more broadly painted variant of the present painting at Petworth (now private collection), another version with Sidney Sabin in the mid-1960s, and a third sold at Christie's, London, March 23, 1979, no. 82. There also seems to have been a version in the collection of the Duke of Bedford [see Walter Shaw Sparrow, British Sporting Artists from Barlow to Herring, London, 1965, pp. 100–101].