She Knew Purgatory When She Saw It


by Sandra Markham, Project Archivist, Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University Library

Although Annie Burr Lewis is primarily associated with Farmington—and her world there with Wilmarth Lewis and Horace Walpole—she was born in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1902, and that seaside city on Narragansett Bay always held an important place in her life. Her grandparents John and Elizabeth Auchincloss purchased a forty-acre estate on the bay in 1852, and by the time her parents Hugh and Emma Auchincloss inherited Hammersmith Farm, the sprawling shingle-style house on the property was the family’s summer respite from their New York City townhouse. Before her 1928 marriage, Annie Burr Auchincloss was an active participant in the summer social set in Newport’s private clubs and on the ocean beaches in nearby Middletown. After their marriage the Lewises continued to spend time at Hammersmith Farm, but following her mother’s death in 1942, Annie Burr Lewis purchased her own home, small early eighteenth-century house at the edge of the family estate. Renovations made it comfortable for the Lewises to enjoy their own property and to host a stream of guests when they spent their summers in Newport.

It was different there from British-inspired scholarly focused Farmington: Newport offered Annie Burr Lewis a more relaxed lifestyle and regular access to her adored nephews, nieces, and their children, as well as a house full of American family furniture and treasures she’d grown up with. She had grown up too with Aquidneck Island and knew well its topography and history, which she documented with her camera and by collecting local landscapes in prints and paintings to hang in her home.

She was no doubt pleased to add to her collection a small wash drawing of a familiar scene near Second Beach in Middletown when she received it from longtime friend Frances “Doll” Hamill (1904-1987), in 1959.

wash drawing of the Rhode Island coastline near Newport, with a sailboat in the distance on the left

Scituate Beach & Purgatory from the Hanging Rocks near Newport R. Id.
by Anthony St. John Baker
Wash with black ink and pen, Sept. 1825
Lewis Walpole Library

Hamill was an antiquarian bookseller in Chicago and a trusted source of eighteenth-century British material for the Lewises’ Farmington collections. The drawing, entitled “Scituate Beach & Purgatory from the Hanging Rocks near Newport R. Id.,” was made by British diplomat Anthony St. John Baker (1785-1854) while he was visiting Newport in September 1825. In addition to providing another view of familiar places in Newport to hang, Hamill’s gift had a second relevance for Annie Burr: to remind her of the time ten years before when she had challenged the text on an exhibition label in the National Portrait Gallery, London, and provided the evidence to effect the change.

Typed card signed WSL

Typed account of the history of the drawing and Annie Burr Lewis’s identification of the setting of the National Portrait Gallery (London)’s Bishop Berkeley portrait

The Lewises had been touring the museum in 1948 or 1949 with its director Sir Henry Hake (1892-1951) when they stopped to admire a painting of the renowned Irish clergyman and philosopher George Berkeley (1685-1753), who had spent several years living in Newport. The accompanying wall label said the portrait had been painted by John Smibert in 1730 in Bermuda.

Color portrait of a man in black gown with white-tabbed collar (indicating he is a clergyman) seated half-length, turned toward the right. On the right in the distance is a landscape scene of a bluff by the ocean with trees on the top of the bluff

George Berkeley
by John Smibert
oil on canvas, 1730
NPG 653
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Annie Burr Lewis knew about Bishop Berkeley, and she knew about Newport. She disagreed with the Bermuda attribution, and she spoke up about it. To her, it was a matter of local history, topography, and iconography. She knew Berkeley had come to the American colonies in 1728 intending to establish a seminary in Bermuda. She knew he had instead settled in the northern section of Newport (now Middletown) in a house he named Whitehall, but he had never gone on to Bermuda—he returned to England in 1732 after funding for the school could not be secured. With her keen interest in historic buildings, Annie Burr had likely toured Whitehall, which by 1949 had been the property of the Colonial Dames for fifty years, and Annie Burr was a member of that society. With male family members alumni of Yale University, she also likely knew that Berkeley had given his house and nearly a thousand books to Yale College when he departed. Most importantly, though, she recognized the rocky bluff that Smibert painted in the background of the portrait. It was not Bermuda, it was Purgatory, one of Rhode Island’s most noted geological features, as familiar to her as it would have been to George Berkeley. That promontory on Sachuest Bay (not Scituate) has the famous Purgatory Chasm, a glacial cleft in  conglomerate rock 120 feet long, 150 feet deep, and 10 feet wide. It is just a mile south of the Paradise Rocks—also known as Hanging Rock and Berkeley Seat—where Bishop Berkeley is known to have spent time composing his treatise Alciphron or The Minute Philosopher (London, 1732).

On her next trip to Newport, Annie Burr photographed Purgatory from a vantage point similar to that of Smibert and sent the evidence to Hake; he validated her findings in a letter to Wilmarth Lewis and pledged to correct the museum’s record.[i]

Typescript letter signed by H.M. Hake

Henry Hake to Wilmarth Lewis, October 12, 1949 (Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis Papers, The Lewis Walpole Library)

A triumph for Annie Burr Lewis? Not quite. According to the painting’s entry in the updated National Portrait Gallery’s collection catalogue Early Georgian Portraits (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1977), Wilmarth Lewis is credited with the new information,

The artist is known to have painted details of actual landscapes in some of his American pictures and the background is perhaps the whale-head promontory on Rhode Island known as Hanging Rock to which the sitter possibly refers in the lines from Alciphron: ‘we then withdrew to a hollow glade between two rocks where we seated ourselves’ (dialogue II, section i). W.S. Lewis, in September 1949, noted when staying near Whitehall, Newport, R.I., the farm where much of this work was reputedly written, that the headland about two miles away resembled Hanging Rock.[ii]

and the headland actually resembles Purgatory, not the craggy outcrop ledge of Hanging Rock. Anthony St. John Baker, in a second drawing titled “Hanging Rocks on Scituate Beach near Newport R.I.,” provides that evidence in an opposing perspective to the work given to Annie Burr. [iii] This view—from Purgatory toward Hanging Rock—shows the distinct difference between these two glacial topographies.

wash drawing of a rocky coastline in Rhode Island

Hanging Rocks on Scituate Beach near Newport R.I.
by Anthony St. John Baker
Wash with black ink and pen (?), 1850
in Mémoires d’un voyageur qui se repose : with illustrations: in four parts
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Annie Burr Lewis died of cancer one month after she received the gift from Doll Hamill and never saw the “corrected” entry in the National Portrait Gallery catalogue. While Baker made these two drawings a century after Smibert painted George Berkeley’s portrait, it is clear the landscape in the background of the painting is not Hanging Rock but Purgatory. That point and the mistaken credit leave Annie Burr’s contribution in Limbo, and the catalogue record in the National Portrait Gallery to be revised once again.


[i] Henry Hake to Wilmarth Lewis, October 12, 1949 (Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis Papers, The Lewis Walpole Library).


There is another version of the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

[iii] Anthony St. John Baker served a variety of diplomatic posts in Europe and America, but resided in Washington for three terms, 1811–1813, 1815–1822, and 1824–1828, after which he retired to England and wrote a seven-part remembrance of his years abroad. Titled Mémoires d’un voyageur qui se repose, it was published privately in London in 1850 in an edition of fifty copies, at least two of which were extra-illustrated with maps, prints, and his own drawings in ink and watercolor. The wash drawing “Hanging Rocks on Scituate Beach near Newport R.I.” is in volume three of the four-volume set at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. That volume also includes three other views of Newport and the area. In both of his drawings, Baker identified the beach “Scituate” rather than its correct spelling Sachuest; locally, it is known as Second Beach.



Reading Horace Walpole

by Neil Guthrie, FSA, FSAScot, Co-editor The Scriblerian and the Kit-Cats

set of 48 books, some with cream dust jackets and some with navy spines

The author’s set of the Yale edition of Horace Walpole’s correspondence

Before the onset of Covid, I bought a full set of the Yale edition of Walpole’s correspondence.

It belonged to Ralph Brown, who worked as a junior editor on the Montagu volumes and dutifully acquired each volume as it was published, right to the end in 1983.

Manuscript inscription To Ralph Brown from W.S. Lewis, New Haven,

Manuscript inscription “To Ralph Brown, / from / W.S. Lewis / New Haven, 1 October 1937”

The set includes the scarce prospectus for the project, and volume 1 is inscribed ‘To Ralph Brown, / from / W.S. Lewis / New Haven, 1 October 1937’.

Prospectus for The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence

Prospectus for “The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence”

Brown went on from Walpole and Montagu to a distinguished career as a law professor. My suspicion, judging by the tightness of the binding of the later volumes, is that he may not actually have read all 48. I did do that, and I’m pleased to say that two articles have resulted from the undertaking.

The first appeared recently in The Book Collector and tells the story of the purchase and the difficulties of getting the books delivered from the bookseller in New Haven to me in Toronto.[1] This was not an easy (or inexpensive) process. The original plan was for me to drive to New Haven one week-end, but then the pandemic closed the Canada-US border to non-commercial vehicles. I managed to find an art shipper managed to do it, and the 48 volumes found their way onto purpose-built shelves in my study.

I took notes as I read, not with any specific objective in mind beyond the pleasure of the letters and the interesting facts, opinions, and anecdotes they revealed. My previous scholarly work has been on Jacobitism, so I was naturally interested to be reminded of Walpole’s never complimentary remarks about the exiled Stuarts, especially in the correspondence with Sir Horace Mann. I also became reacquainted with Walpole himself, and in much more detail than I previously knew him. Having read Matthew Reeve’s study of gothic architecture and sexuality in Walpole’s circle, I looked for clues to Walpole’s sexual identity or orientation, knowing full well that the record, while extensive, would be partial by design and by circumstance.[2] No smoking guns, as George Haggerty has observed.[3]

What intrigued me was not so much what Walpole and his correspondents expressed about their own sexual and romantic affairs as how Walpole reacted to other men we can usefully describe as queer. In particular, the combination of almost visceral distaste and fascination that resulted from his indirect dealings with the bisexual libertine Baron Philipp von Stosch, and his feigned lack of interest in the flamboyant Cardinal Prince Henry Benedict (Duke of York in the Jacobite peerage, the younger of the Old Pretender’s two sons) suggested the second article, which is forthcoming in Eighteenth-Century Life.[4]

reproduction of Macardell mezzotint portrait of Walpole

Horace Walpole, from a mezzotint by James Macardell after the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

I suggest there that Walpole’s strong reactions to both men, which he concealed even from Mann, reveal anxieties that do not surface (or at least not as much) in his interactions with less outré queer men like Mann and John Chute. It is as though Walpole felt safe with his intimates as long as they kept largely to themselves, but was alarmed that parallels might be drawn between him and the very out Stosch and Cardinal York. I am conscious that much of the material from the correspondence will be well known to readers of Walpole, and I did not find a smoking gun that had been overlooked by Haggerty or others; but I think the focus on the Prince and the Baron adds nuance to our understanding of Horace Walpole and the eighteenth-century sexualities, identities, and queer cultures he navigated over the course of his life and letter-writing.

I aired my ideas about Walpole, Cardinal York and Stosch at a Lewis Walpole virtual coffee earlier this year. Susan Walker was very helpful in providing answers to queries and scans of manuscript material at Farmington, which I hope to visit again soon.

[1] “Reading Horace Walpole: A Pandemic Project”, The Book Collector 72:1 (spring 2023), 81-5.

[2] Gothic Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole (University Park, Penn.: Penn State University Press, 2020).

[3] “Queer Feelings: Love and Loss in the Letters of Horace Walpole”, Humanities 10 (2021), 108.

[4] “Horace Walpole, the Prince, and the Baron”, forthcoming in Eighteenth-Century Life.

Finding Joy (and Jeffry) in the Archives

by Miriam L. Wallace, Professor of English, New College of Florida
Co-Editor, Transits: Literature, Culture, Thought 1650-1850 series, Bucknell University Press

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Lewis Walpole Library. I’d worked in the New York Public Library’s Pforzheimer archives and on Virginia Woolf’s writing notebooks (also held at NYPL), and had a brief period in the Bodleian (mostly trying to read obscure1790s Jacobin novels). At the NYPL’s main reading room they asked me to work with microfilm and only to request the original material if absolutely necessary—so I only got to actually see one of Woolf’s notebooks briefly and I never got to see a real letter by Mary Hays. So when I arrived at the Walpole and asked whether I should start with things that were digitized and only call up rarer materials later, I was heartened by Sue Walker’s “oh no, we want you to call up the real objects!” It was also a wholly different experience because the reading room as well as the residence were social. I’ll never forget when someone else called up something (probably by mistake)—that turned out to be the actual engraved copperplate of Hogarth’s “The Sleeping Congregation.” We all gathered around—it was one of the most truly beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Another fellow gave an impromptu lecture, noting where the etching had started to smooth out at the edges from repeated prints, the ink left in some of the traces, and explaining the process of etching. It made the reason those who engraved the images called themselves “sculptors” immediately graspable in ways that stay with me.

Calling up multiple copies of images also got me thinking much harder about the impact a colorist could have on the effect and power of an image. In some cases coloring takes on an interpretive role (see the image of Edmund Burke famously flinging a dagger to the floor of parliament, helpfully bloodied by the colorist). When we work with digital images and texts it’s easy to forget that we are just looking at one instance of an object—and variations can be meaningful. The sheer redundancy and richness of such a deep archive changed how I think about both texts and prints.

But what about Jeffry Dunstan? (also sometimes known as “Jeffrey,” particularly from Leslie Stephen’s entry in the first Dictionary of National Biography). My project was looking for “speaking subjects”—that is, considering how the visual record contributes to a late century fascination with and fear of public speech by non-elite or common speakers. Cindy Roman and Sue Walker suggested some useful search terms I hadn’t thought of—eloquence in particular—that were very fruitful. There were all kinds of happy accidents—particularly the lovely images of “Children Spouting” that deserve an entire essay to themselves. But there was one image that truly puzzled me:

Song in five stanzas, printed below title and below image of a man standing on a chair, one arm raised. Two couples sit on the left of the composition, and a man enters through the doorway on the right.

Maxwell, J.G.
“Melchisedec Bristle,” Publish’d 1st Sept. 1798 by Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street, London
etching & engraving
The Lewis Walpole Library

“Drolls” or comic images sometimes accompanied by song are fairly common, and many were published by Laurie & Whittle in the late eighteenth century. But I wasn’t at all sure what to make of this image. Cindy McCreery writes that they were “sold in various sizes for between sixpence and several shillings.”[1] In many cases, including this one, the comic image is associated with a comic ballad illustrated in the image. Here we have a Methodist barber, presumably in his shop, introducing himself and his double services. The comic tetrameter, the pun on “shaving” souls (of their money as much as their unwanted hair), the various customers for his services seem fairly stock. But what caught my eye was the barber’s posture—he stands tiptoe on a chair, with one arm raised, and while his feet are about shoulder’s width apart, his legs twist so that his knees touch.

“Melchisedec” is from 1798, but when I found another echo, it was more than a decade earlier:

Two separate images illustrate Charles Fox's contrasting political pronouncements. On the left, "in private," Fox, with fox's head, is sitting in front of a fireplace in which "An Essay on Politic Sperit [sic]" is being consumed by flames while Fox points to a large document, his political creed, spread on the table to his right. From his coat's pocket sticks out "A Panegyric on Lord North." In the foreground, a monkey plays with a pamphlet "The tru[e] principle of the Constitut[ion]," next to a bundle of books comprising MacCauley's, Locke's and Sydney's works, marked "To Be Sold." On the right, "in publick," Fox, standing on a platform and cheered by a large crowd, including 'Sir' Jeffrey Dunstan, advocates views opposed to those in his creed on the left

Vox populi in private ; Vox populi in publick, 1783
The Lewis Walpole Library
783. Impression 1

Searching for terms like “oration” and “eloquence” led me right into the 1784 Westminster election, and a great many satires focusing on Charles James Fox. Fox’s campaign involved a number of plebian supporters such as publican Sam House and also Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (who was reputed to have sold kisses in exchange for votes). All are subjects in a large number of satirical prints. Implying a politician’s hypocrisy and disdain for his followers feels very familiar in 2023. But note the small figure in the “Vox Populi in Publick” panel—right in the front with a raised hand and knock-knees. His name was Jeffry Dunstan, and I’ve found about twenty different images of him mostly in satirical political prints between 1779 and 1798. The iconography is remarkable stable: a short-statured figure with knees together, one hand raised in an oratorial gesture, the other holding a bag over his shoulder. His dress is usually marked by unbuckled shoes, sagging stockings, a shirt that gapes wide over his bare chest, and his hair is almost always worn naturally (while those around him sport wigs).

Jeffry Dunstan was a known figure on the streets of London. He’s often identified as an “old wig seller,” with his wig bag draped over his shoulder. He was really known as public orator, and eulogized by Charles Lamb as a kind of vulgar plebian wit. My own suspicion is that the wig bag was insurance against charges of vagrancy, and that as short-statured anomalous-bodied person, he made his living by attracting crowds and soliciting tips (or drinks). He rose to real fame in 1785 as a candidate in the mock elections at Garrat (variously spelled: Garratt, Garret). Garrat was not even a town, but several public houses and a commons on the outskirts of London near Wandsworth.

The tradition of electing a “Mayor” of Garrat imitating both Parliamentary and Mayoral elections, reportedly originated in anger over enclosures in the 1600s. Certainly it was a carnivalesque mockery of political processes in which ordinary Britons had no voice. According to Chamber’s Book of Days, Samuel Foote was inspired by his visit in 1762 to write a two-act farce “The Mayor of Garratt”; in later elections some of the speeches given were reportedly written by Foote, David Garrick, and Thomas Sheridan (famous and respected playwrights and theatrical managers). By the 1780s a vogue for public oration and debating societies open to commoners was in full flush, and the Garrat elections became famous enough to draw large crowds from London for an entertaining day out. One account claims that for the 1785 elections, Dunstan arrived from London in a coach pulled by his supporters with a mile-long procession following.[2] Dunstan was elected twice and appears to have been arrested at least once for making speeches critical of the government (although it’s very difficult to know what he actually said versus what newspapers ascribed to him).[3] Dunstan was thus strongly associated with radical and opposition speech, and so is frequently paired with Fox and also with Sam House to represent the less respectable elements of the voice of “the mob.” And in 1795, Parliament passed the Seditious Meetings Act, which made public gatherings of more than fifty persons subject to the approval of a magistrate, effectively restricting public debate on political topics including abolition of the slave trade.

I’ll close with this image of Dunstan speaking at the oldest and most famous of the public debating societies—the Robin Hood. It was strongly associated with low social status and trade—with a well-known baker, Caleb Jaecocke, as president and manager in this period.[4] Again, we see Dunstan in his classic pose—like Melchesidec Bristle, perched on something to elevate him to the same level as other speakers, hand raised, knock-kneed. On the wall behind him, we have his figure repeated, but this time the wig bag is replaced by a staff of his office as Mayor of Garrat.

On the right, the chairman of the Robin Hood Society leans over a rostrum toward the speaker, Jeffery Dunstan, a hawker whose physical deformities and wit led to his election as the "mayor of Garrett" shown in the image behind him on the wall. The caricatured audience, plebeian in its appearance, along with the subject of an upcoming debate announced on the side of the rostrum, further ridicule this well-known debating society

The Robin Hood Society
Pubd. May 25, 1783, by W Humphrey, No 227 Strand
etching & engraving
The Lewis Walpole Library

[1] Cindy McCreery, “title” British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 23 (2000), p. 135-152, 136.

[2] “History of the Mock Election,” Thomas Dugdale and William Burnett, Curiosities of Great Britain: England & Wales Delineated, Historical, Entertaining & Commercial. London, 1830

[3] See also John Brewer, “Theatre and Counter-Theatre in the Mock Elections at Garrat” History Today, 1983,

[4] Mary Thale, ‘The Robin Hood Society: Debating in Eighteenth-Century London’, The London Journal, 22:1 (1997), 33–50, p. 37.



Coast to Coast

by Teanu Reid, Ph.D. Candidate, Yale University, Departments of African American Studies and History

Scholars of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the British Caribbean may be surprised to learn that the Lewis Walpole Library has several documents related to the Royal Africa Company, commercial records of enslavers, and plantation surveillance.

Title page for The Importance of Effectively Supporting the Royal African Company of England Impartially Considered...

The Importance of Effectively Supporting the Royal African Company of England Impartially Considered… London, Printed by E. Say; Sold by J. Roberts, 1745 The Lewis Walpole Library 49 2146 v.1

A few documents of note include The Importance of Effectually Supporting the Royal African Company of England, 1745 and The African Trade, the Great Pillar and Support of the British Plantation Trade, 1745 (bound together in LWL 49 2146.1). These pamphlets provide details about the company forts and castles on the continent of Africa, along with details of the activities of other European powers. They argue for the essentialness of the Atlantic slave trade over other commercial routes, including trade to East India.

page for pamphlet entitled The African Trade, the Great Pillar and Support of the British Plantation Trade in America

The African Trade, the Great Pillar and Support of the British Plantation Trade in America…
London, Printed for J. Robinson, 1745
The Lewis Walpole Library 49 2146 v.1

title page of pamphlet entitled "A Short View of the Dispute..."

A Short View of the Dispute between the Merchants of London, Bristol, and Leverpool, and the Advocates of a New Joint-Stock Company Concerning the Regulation of the African Trade London, 1750 The Lewis Walpole Library 49 2146 v.1


Additionally, various documents at the Lewis Walpole Library chronicle the complaints of Caribbean planters or English merchants, who felt cheated by duties or other imperial policies. A Short View of the Dispute between the Merchants of London, Bristol, and Leverpool, and the Advocates of a New Joint-Stock Company explicitly focused on the disagreements between merchants, planters, and corporations as related to the shipment of enslaved people from Africa to the Caribbean.


A plan of a coffee plantation with areas numbered 1 through 40, and the key engraved below: "Reference to the plan."

Thomas Conder, 1746 or 1747-1831
Plan of a regular coffee plantation, Decr. 1st, 1791, engraving.
The Lewis Walpole Library

Finally, prints like the Plan of a Regular Coffee Plantation by Thomas Conder,1791, and A Negro Market in the West Indies, 1806, depict how slave owners and other white colonists believed they could control and monitor enslaved black people laboring on Caribbean islands.

a colorful scene of bustling activity with both black and white people interacting, some seated and some standing, in an open space surrounded by low houses and hills beyond. offered, evidently for sale by some of the black figures, are fish, fowl, fruit, a pig, and other items.

Cardon, Anthony, 1772-1813
A Negro market in the West Indies.
London, Printed by Motte, 1806
The Lewis Walpole Library

While documents like An Account of Runaway Slaves: Killed, Taken, and Surrendered (on the island of Dominica), 1816, show the consequences whites inflicted onto enslaved Africans who attempted to escape inhumane servitude.

letterpress document that includes the following sections:no. 1. Runaway slaves, killed, and by whom no. 2 Runaway slaves taken by the Loyal Dominica Rangers, by the militia or volunteers sent against the runaways ... no. 3. Runaway slaves surrendered to the Loyal Dominica Rangers. no. 4 Slaves taken up by managers of palntations, by constables, &c in towns ... no. 5 Slaves, stated by Mr. Bruce, the Governor's secretary, to have surrendered to the Governor, and pardened by him; and restored to their owner.

Great Britain. Colonial Office.
An account of runaway slaves : killed, taken, and surrendered, between the 10th day of May 1813, the date of Governor Ainslie’s proclamation, and the 22nd day of November 1814, the day of his departure from Dominica.
London: House of Commons, 1816
The Lewis Walpole Library
File 652 G786 816

Indeed, a one or two-month fellowship at the Lewis Walpole Library could prove crucial for scholars of the Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the British Caribbean.


Teanu Reid held a Lewis Walpole Library Summer Fellowship for Yale Graduate Students in 2021.

From Where to There: Identifying the Location of a Landscape

A recent acquisition helped to bring to light the solution to a mystery regarding a painting at the Library. In September 2022, the Library purchased an 1826 lithograph by Mary Anne Theresa Whitby bearing a helpful caption identifying the scene as a view of the “Sepulchro di Plautio,” or the tomb of the Plautius family, located in the area near Tivoli in Italy.

black and white lithograph view of trees on the left, people on a riverbank in the center front, a bridge with one arch on the middle right leading to a crenillated tower and building with peaked roof in the center of the composition, countryside on the middle left, hill behind.

Mary Anne Theresa Whitby, 1783-1850, Sepolcro di Plautio, 1826, lithograph, Lewis Walpole Library.

The print, produced after a drawing by Whitby and, according to dealer Samuel Gedge printed on her private lithograph press in Newlands in Hampshire, featured two figures on a riverbank in the foreground, a bridge with three rounded arches in the middle right of the scene leading to a large, round crenellated tower next to a building with peaked roof on the left.

Something looked familiar about the scene. Where had I seen that tower and bridge before? Then it came to me.

Hanging on the wall in the reception area is “An Italianate River Landscape,” attributed to British artist Thomas Patch, (1725-1782). The bridge, the round tower, the building with peaked roof, hills in the distance were all there.

A landscape with a stone bridge going over a river, in the mid-ground, leading on the right to a round crenillated stone tower with a dark building with peaked roof. Hills are in the background, and figures are by the shore in the foreground

Thomas Patch, 1725-1782, An Italianate river landscape, not after 1782, oil on canvas, Lewis Walpole Library, LWL Ptg. 102 Framed

The oil painting has hung at the Library since Library founder Wilmarth Lewis purchased it in 1953 from Spink & Son. It appears on the firm’s invoice as “Landscape with tower and bridge, thought to be a scene in the Roman Campagna.” It was called “Italian Riverscape” on the catalog card at the Library. The title “An Italianate River Landscape” was assigned by specialists from Christie’s auction house during a 2005 appraisal. No identification of a specific location could be found in the files in which provenance and scholarly communications have been compiled. Presumably it was a capriccio that combined actual landscape or architectural components with elements of imagination.

The landscape was described by Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Paintings Cynthia Roman for the online catalog record. “This view of a river with a tower and bridge is a non-specific Italianate landscape, likely inspired by the Roman Campagna. The rural scene is populated with figures both at work and leisure. Patch painted this type of scene for English grand tourists.”

However, the purchase of the lithograph by Mary Anne Theresa Whitby pointed to a possible alternative. The Sepulchro di Plautio, also known as The Tomb or Mausoleum of Plautii, the adjacent bridge called the Ponte Lucano, both built in the first century BCE, as well as the nearby ruins of a fifteenth or sixteenth-century inn can still be seen in Italy. As the World Monuments Fund, which placed the bridge on its Watch List in 2010, explains, “For over two millennia, Ponte Lucano has survived and adapted to the growing urban landscape while maintaining its historic identity and architectural integrity. The bridge is part of an archaeological landscape that includes remains of the mausoleum of Plautii (1st century B.C.)…”

Further corroboration was found in the Library’s collection in a heavily annotated, extra-illustrated, and interleaved copy of F.J.B. Watson’s Thomas Patch (1725-1782) Notes on his Life Together with a Catalogue of his Known Works, first published in The Volume of the Walpole Society (28, pp. 15-51).*

Watson wrote,

One of Patch’s earliest and most faithful patrons was Lord Charlemont. . . . In particular he ordered a set of views of Tivoli which took some time to execute, for Cardinal Albani told Sir Horace Mann that Patch had been working there for his patron during the three summer months of 1750 and again in 1751. None of these views of Tivoli has so far been traced, but the picture of ‘the Falls of Terni’ (Catalog, No. 35), was almost certainly executed for the same patron.

He also notes “Cat. Nos. 35a and 35b only came to light while this paper was in the press” (Watson, p. 17). Among the many added black and white photographs of paintings by Patch in the extra-illustrated volume at the Lewis Walpole Library are photos of the Charlemont two views, numbered in pencil 35a and 35b. Just opposite them is a page with three further views, numbered 35f (i), (ii), (iii), and apparently only known to Watson after the article was published.

page of book with three horizontal black and white photos of landscape paintings inserted with photo corners

Page with inserted black and white photos of paintings numbered 35f (i), (ii), (iii) in Quarto 75 P27 S940 Copy 1

detail of an unprinted page of a book with pencilled manuscript notes in small neat writing

Penciled notes on blank page opposite page 40 in Quarto 75 P27 S940 Copy 1

The 35f corresponds to penciled notes on the blank page facing Catalog Number 35 on page 40. Those notes say “Three views in the Roman Campagna (1) the Ponte Lucano, (2) the Tomb of Cecelia Metalla, and (3) the Tombs of the Horatii & Curatii [sic], all 20 1/2 x 41 ins, sold Robinson & Foster lot 109 as Zucharella [very damaged]. These subsequently turned up miraculously re[suscitated?] at Spinks (1953) see photos. Probably executed at Florence; the backgrounds resemble the hills towards Fiesole, (3) is now in the possession of W.S. Lewis, Farmington.”

There is confusion in the extra-illustrated volume’s handwritten notes. The photo at the top of the page most likely shows the Tomb of the Plautii, not the Ponte Lucano (there is no bridge visible in that scene), or the Tomb of Cecelia Metalla, which is not next to a river. The middle photograph shows the Tombs of the Horatii & Curiatii, mistakenly numbered (iii) in the notes, not the Tomb of Cecelia Metalla, which has a single tower. And finally, photo iii, shows the Ponte Lucano, the painting now on view in the reception area of the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington.

The acquisition of a small nineteenth century amateur lithograph prompted a reassessment of the Patch painting. No longer an imagined “Landscape with tower and bridge, thought to be a scene in the Roman Campagna,” “Italian Riverscape,” or “An Italianate River Landscape,”  the actual location depicted in the landscape painting by Patch, which has remained unidentified from the time it was acquired nearly seventy years ago, can be securely identified as “A View of the Ponte Lucano and mausoleum of Plautii.” Its identity had indeed been known by the annotator of the Watson volume, but that knowledge had not found its way into an object file, onto a Library catalog card, or into the online catalog record.

As these things go, now that we know what the view is, we fully expect to find scenes with the bridge, mausoleum, and inn cropping up in the Library’s and other collections.

Thomas Manby, 1633(?)–1695, British, Ponte Lucano, Near Tivoli, recto, between 1660 and 1690, Pen and brown ink, gray wash, and graphite on medium, moderately, textured, cream laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1977.14.5699.

Thomas Manby, 1633(?)–1695, British, Ponte Lucano, Near Tivoli, recto, between 1660 and 1690, Pen and brown ink, gray wash, and graphite on medium, moderately, textured, cream laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, B1977.14.5699.

Robert MacPherson, 1814–1872, British, Ponte Lucano and the Tomb of Plautii, Tivoli, recto, cropped to image, 1860s, Albumen print on medium, smooth, cream wove paper mounted to board, Yale Center for British Art, transfer from the Yale University Art Gallery, B2016.11.2.

Robert MacPherson, 1814–1872, British, Ponte Lucano and the Tomb of Plautii, Tivoli, recto, cropped to image, 1860s, Albumen print on medium, smooth, cream wove paper mounted to board, Yale Center for British Art, transfer from the Yale University Art Gallery, B2016.11.2.

For example, it turns out that the Yale Center for British Art has a seventeenth-century drawing by Thomas Manbey and a nineteenth-century photograph, both of which show the Ponte Lucano and mausoleum of the Plautii near Tivoli.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Italian, 1720–1778, Veduta degl’avanzi del sepolcro della famiglia Plauzia sulla via Tiburtina vicino al ponte Lugano due miglia lontano da Tivoli (View of the Remains of the Tomb of the Plautii on the Via Tiburtina Near the Ponte Lugano Two Miles from Tivoli), from Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), 1761 (1765–9?), Etching, The Arthur Ross Collection, 2012.159.11.81

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Italian, 1720–1778, Veduta degl’avanzi del sepolcro della famiglia Plauzia sulla via Tiburtina vicino al ponte Lugano due miglia lontano da Tivoli (View of the Remains of the Tomb of the Plautii on the Via Tiburtina Near the Ponte Lugano Two Miles from Tivoli), from Vedute di Roma (Views of Rome), 1761 (1765–9?), Etching,
The Arthur Ross Collection, 2012.159.11.81

And the Yale University Art Gallery has a Piranesi etching showing the mausoleum from a different angle.

wash drawing showing a landscape with a crenillated tower and small building with peaked roof on the left, a bridge with one arch going over a river in the middle and hills and countryside on the right, foreground, and background

John Holland, -1777, William Gilpin, 1724-1804, and William Mason, 1725-1797, Drawing 47 in Album of landscape drawings by Mason, Gilpin, and Holland, not after 1797?, wash drawing, The Lewis Walpole Library, Folio 75 G42 797.

Here is a view that appears in an Album of landscape drawings by Mason, Gilpin, and Holland held at the Lewis Walpole Library. Is it wishful thinking, or do those tower, bridge, and small building with the peaked roof look familiar? Or is it only a scene evocative of the Roman campagna, just an imagined Italianate river landscape?

–Susan Odell Walker, Head of Public Services, the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University


*The volume is extensively extra-illustrated with photographs, research notes, articles, correspondence. It is not clear when the extra-illustration was carried out or by whom the primary annotations were made, although perhaps it is not too far-fetched to suggest they were added by F.J.B. Watson himself. A provenance note indicates Watson gave Lewis the volume in April 1978.



Album of Landscape Drawings by Mason, Gilpin, and Holland not after 1797. England. Folio 75 G42 797

“Ponte Lucano.” World Monuments Fund, accessed Oct 21, 2022,

Samuel Gedge Ltd. “Grand Tour in Lithograph by Amateur Printmaker.” Prints, Drawings &c., Autumn 2022, p. 21. accessed Oct 21, 2022,

Watson, F. “Thomas Patch (1725-1782) Notes on His Life, Together with a Catalogue of His Known Works.” Reprint from The Volume of the Walpole Society 28 (Jan 1,): 15-50. Quarto 75 P27 S940 Copy 1