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Pictures of this type, showing rocky landscapes with brigands, derive from the work of Salvator Rosa, the seventeenth-century Italian master of the 'Terrific' Sublime. Richard Wilson painted some examples, and this kind of subject-matter was much favoured by John Hamilton Mortimer, who occasionally collaborated with Wilson. These are among the first landscapes of the Romantic movement, and illustrate the interdependence of classicism and romanticism in the development of later eighteenth-century taste. This picture is evidently not by Mortimer himself, but may be by a minor associate, Benjamin Wilson.

August 2004