CAPRAROLA - THE VILLA FARNESE (VIGNOLA)
Signed l.r., titled & dated l.l. 3 July 1963
Watercolour with pen & ink
30.5 x 41.8 cm
Provenance:P. & D. Colnaghi, London;
The Hon. Colin Clark (1932-2002), London;
Thence by descent
Roman Drawings by Lord Methuen, P. & D. Colnaghi, London, 11th February - 3rd March 1964, Cat. No. 1
"If the English aristocracy had all been as talented as Lord Methuen, Canaletto would have forfeited his monopoly. An exhibition of Lord Methuen's Roman Drawings is on view at Colnaghi's ... and the introduction of an eighteenth-century note is not out of place. Most of the items are actually in pen and wash or water-colour and they are traditional. The artist sees Rome as others have seen her and he sees what they saw. When he draws the Forum, the results remind one trongly of Claude's studies in wash. A view of St Peter's adopts Corot's tone values. Lord Methuen is sentimental about Rome and prefers the old monuments to the modern life of the city. There are very few people in these views and hardly an traffic ... These sketches are reassuring and familiar and are very pretty ... This is not the kind of exhibition that is usually reviewed. This is a pity because it comes as a useful reminder of just how varied the artistic scene is in London these days" (1).
Paul Ayshford Methuen was born at his family's ancestral home Corsham Court, Wiltshire. He was the eldest child of Field Marshal Paul Methuen and was educated at Eton and New College, where he studied Natural Sciences. While up at Oxford he also studied painting under Sir Charles Holmes at the Ruskin. He studied amphibians and reptiles at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria prior to the war, where he published with John Hewitt, a respected herpetologist. Following service in the War, he worked in the Ministry of Agriculture.
In 1927 he attended art classes given by the then elderly Walter Sickert, who had an immediate effect upon his oil painting. From this time forth Methuen established himself as an artist of note, with his first exhibition at the Warren Gallery in 1928. He had solo shows at the Leciester Galleries and Colnaghi’s and exhibited also at the RA and NEAC. He was a trustee of the National Gallery and the Tate. He served from 1939-1944, re-joining his regiment as Captain, but he was moved to the Procurement and Fine Art branch. He was also commissioned by the WAAC (War Advisory Artists Committee), mainly for London dockyard scenes.
He published his recollections of his time in the Monuments Men (see Bibliography below) which included a large number of illustrations of the various grand houses and locations visited in Normandy and Belgium. Later in life, having succeeded his father as Baron Methuen, he worked hard on the restoration of Corsham Court, both architecturally and in terms of its collection. The house had a Picture Gallery which had been designed by Capability Brown, and he sought to expand the collection display there both by acquiring new works and buying back works that his father the 3rd Baron had sold off.
Methuen was eventually able to publish two catalogues of the works in the collection. In 1946 he offered the house to the Bath Academy of Art, which was previously the Bath School of Art before it was destroyed by bombing in 1942. The house is now partly used by Bath Spa University, as well as being the residence of the 8th Baron Methuen, James Methuen-Campbell.
(1) Keith Roberts, Current & Forthcoming Exhibitions, in The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 106, No. 732 (March 1964), p.137
(i) Normandy Diary: Being a Record of Survivals and Losses of Historical Monuments in North-Western France, together with those in the island of Walcheren and in that Part of Belgium traversed by 21st Army Group in 1944-45, Robert Hale Ltd., London (1952)