The Convent of San Cosimato

WAG 2139


This artwork has been identified as having links to a person connected with transatlantic slavery. This research is part of the Walker Art Gallery’s ongoing work to be more transparent about the collection’s relationship to Britain's colonial past. This painting was previously owned by Thomas Moss Tate (died 1825), one of the Liverpool merchants who made a fortune through the transatlantic slave trade, as a successful tobacco and snuff merchant. Later owners of the painting were William Claxton (born about 1796) and Ecroyde Ihler Claxton (1877 - 1954). They were descendants of Ecroyde Claxton (born 1769), a ship's surgeon on several voyages trafficking enslaved African people, who later testified in support of abolition as a result of his experiences. The convent in this painting is perched on a hillside in the Roman Campagna overlooking the River Aniene about 30 miles from Rome. Wright made several versions of the subject, which he conceived as a pair to a view of Dovedale in Derbyshire. Italian landscapes were among the artist Joseph Wright's (1734 - 1797), favourite themes in his last years, over a decade after his visit to Italy. He is said to have given this picture as a gift to his Liverpool friend and pupil, William Tate (1747 - 1806), who then left it to his nephew Thomas Moss Tate.