This characteristic study was made by Richard Wilson during his residence in Rome in the early 1750s and belongs to a group of drawings which were first owned by his travelling companion William Lock. Executed rapidly in black and white chalk on buff coloured paper, this drawing was almost certainly made on the spot. During his time in Rome, Wilson pioneered the practice of making studies en plein air. As a result Wilson developed a form of landscape painting that combined the modes of Claude and Gaspard Dughet with a careful approach to topography. From early in his stay in Rome, Wilson was working on a major sequence of views of the environs of the city, commissioned by William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. This subtle, vertical study is carefully inscribed by Wilson, ‘Negroni’ identifying the subject as a view of the grounds of the Villa Montalto-Peretti, known in the eighteenth century by the family name of its then owners, Negroni.
The precise view shows the ancient hill, known as the Monte della Giustizia, which formed an important feature within the villa’s gardens, it was crowned by ancient seated figure of Roma. Wilson shows the colossal sculpture arm raised, holding a spear, profiled within a ring of cyprus and umbrella pine trees. As with many of Wilson’s drawings, this view, on the eastern fringes of the city, would go on to become one frequently explored by later British artists including John Robert Cozens.