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Lake with Castle on a Hill

Joseph Wright of Derby, English, 1734–1797
Oil on canvas
Made in
England, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 202
diameter: 23 1/4 in. (59.1 cm)
framed: 33 1/8 × 33 1/8 × 2 3/8 in. (84.1 × 84.1 × 6 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Christian B. Peper
Public Domain
Object Number
The dark tree silhouetted against the moonlight enhances the romantic drama of this isolated castle tower overlooking a lake. Joseph Wright of Derby also contrasted the glittery luminescence of the watery surface with the softer glow of the moonlit clouds. Justly famous for his ability to depict light, the artist was adept at capturing a range of effects, from the glow surrounding a volcano fire to the reflection of a gas lamp or, as here, the natural radiance of the moon. This painting was inspired by the artist’s fond recollections of a trip to Naples, Italy, in 1774.
1787 -
Birch collection [1]

by 1823 -
Joseph Birch, England [2]

Grant collection

by 1968 -
Gooden & Fox Ltd., London, England [3]

- 1984
Morton Morris & Co., Ltd., London, England

1984 - 2006
Christian B. Peper, St. Louis, MO, USA, purchased from Morton Morris & Co., Ltd. [4]

2006 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Christian Peper [5]

The main source for this provenance is Benedict Nicolson's 1968 catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 330 [Nicolson, Benedict. "Joseph Wright of Derby: Painter of Light." London and New Work: Paul Mellon Foundation for British Art, Routledge and K. Paul; Pantheon Books, 1968, cat. no. 330, p. 269]. Other supporting documents are noted.

[1] According to the 1968 catalogue raisonné (see main note), Nicholson writes that Joseph Wright of Derby listed "a Circular picture Moon light for Mr. Birch £21" in his account books.

[2] The 1968 catalogue raisonné states (see main note and note [1]) that "a 'Landscape, moonlight' was lent by Joseph Birch" to an exhibition at the Liverpool Royal Institute in 1823. It is not known if Joseph Birch is the same person that commissioned the painting from Wright in 1787.

[3] The 1968 catalogue raisonné lists the dealer Gooden & Fox Ltd as the owner at the time of publication [see main note].

[4] According to an invoice from Morton Morris & Co., Ltd., Christian B. Peper purchased the painting on June 7, 1984 [SLAM document files].

[5] Deed of gift from Christian B. Peper dated August 23, 2006 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, September 26, 2006.
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