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Wright sailed for Rome in November 1773. His trip was possibly inspired by a similar tour undertaken by his teacher, the portraitist Thomas Hudson (1701-79) in 1752. Briefly stopping en-route in Nice in December, Wright made several picturesque sketches of the surrounding countryside. These pre-figure his later Italian landscapes and reveal his refined touch. This drawing, in particular, is rich in minute topographical detail. However, its design recalls Wright''s treatment of a single portrait subject, the castle ruin and the diagonal of the hill-slope anchoring the composition like a seated figure.

August 2004