In 1788, one of George Augustus Wallis’s many patrons, Lord Warwick, financed a trip to Italy. Around that year he arrived in Naples, where he stayed for a number of years, before moving to Rome in 1795. He was nicknamed ‘le Poussin anglais’ by his fellow English artists, and his future son-in-law, the neo-classical painter Gottlieb Schick (1776 -1812) described him as ‘probably the foremost landscape painter in Rome’.
It is only since the late 1990s that the sketches made by Wallis in the Roman Campagna have come to light. This particular example is an essay in atmosphere. The countryside to the south of Rome is sombre and grey, a contrast to the sun-drenched landscape usually depicted in such studies. At the top, pale blue sky is glimpsed behind a bank of rolling grey clouds and an area of pink at the right hints at a sunset. But the chief subject is the driving rain, rendered in diagonal strokes of grey and increasing in intensity towards the left.
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