N01779 River Scene with Ruins c. 1756–65
Oil on canvas 857×1254 (33⅔×49 3/8)
Bequeathed by Henry S. Ashbee 1900
PROVENANCE ...; H. S. Ashbee by 1900
LITERATURE Grant 1958, II, pp. 161–2
Dall, who is known to have been in England by 1756, seems to have concentrated at first on decorative Italianate landscapes of this nature. He exhibited such subjects only, in various sizes, at the SA until 1765, after which his output began to consist largely of topographical views of country houses and British scenery.
The broad and summary manner and strongly but unsubtly expressed planes of recession into a distance devoid of any arresting focal features reflect his lifelong work as a scenery painter. His ‘fat pigment’ technique had a parallel in Richard Wilson who, like Dall, worked for many years in Italy. It is therefore not surprising that the picture entered the collection as a Wilson and was until recently catalogued as a work of the Wilson School, although Grant correctly attributed it to Dall on grounds of style as early as 1926.
During the restoration of the painting in 1969 the initials ‘NT’ were recorded on the back of the relining canvas; they appear to have been executed in a distinctive cursive script which matches the known signatures of the artist. It is probable that this represented a fragment of Dall's signature copied or traced from the back of the original canvas.
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988