The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Milan: Interior of Sant' Ambrogio
  • Richard Parkes Bonington (1802 - 1828)
  • Milan: Interior of Sant' Ambrogio
  • France
  • 1827
  • Painting
  • Watercolour and bodycolour with gum varnish on paper
  • Image size: 22.1 x 28.6 cm
  • Signature: 'R P B 1827'
  • P714
  • Not on display
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Based on drawn studies done when Bonington was in Milan with Charles Rivet in April 1826. The medieval building of San Ambrogio, one of the most important Early Christian basilicas, dates largely from the eleventh century. Bonington exaggerated its Gothic features, and an extensive restoration in the late nineteenth century has since altered the view he depicted. Church and monastic interiors by artists such as Granet and Renoux were popular in France in the 1820s.Here, with extensive use of bodycolour and gum varnish in the darker parts, Bonington has built up large areas of the surface before modifying them to crearte the subtlest transitions from pale brown and ash grey to the deepest black in the centre of the composition. What would otherwise be oppressively sombre is brilliantly animated by the sunlight flashing on the grille and the opening at the far end of the choir. It is a remarkable demonstration of Bonington's instinctive understanding of tonal balance.