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Conway Castle
The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Conway Castle
c.1765 (undated)
Graphite on white laid paper
203 x 323 mm
8 x 12 11/16 in.
PB4103
D370
A turreted castle is shown in the centre middle distance beyond a river. The scene is framed on the left by partly bare trees on a bank below which a woman and two men stand looking across the water. In the upper right corner is a small landscape sketch on a different scale.
Birmingham 1948-49 (124); London 1949 (123); London 1973-74 (39)
Herbert Horne; Sir Edward Marsh; Christie's June 1949 (16); Villiers David; with Colnaghi & Co., London, from whom bought by the National Library of Wales, 1960.
Unsigned; no inscription
[1] Lower left: Handwritten provenance, exhibition history and catalogue details
[2] Lower right, black ink in old hand: Richard Wilson, R.A., | 1714-1782 | Conway Castle.
[3] Verso of backboard, upper left, pencil: 28 in circle
[4] Verso of backboard, upper right, pencil inscription identifying D370 with Ford 1951, pl. 76; signed PJ 27/8/82
[5] Verso of backboard, centre left in green ink: II in circle
[1] Verso left centre, vertical typed label: Messrs. James Bourlet & Sons Ltd., | 17, Nassau Street, | Mortimer Street, W.1. | For:- Pictures Past and Present | From:- Sir Edward Marsh, K.C.V.O.
[2] Lower left corner: National Library of Wales inventory label: PB4103
[3] Verso of backboard: four museum labels
Conway (now Conwy) Castle was built by Edward I, during his conquest of Wales (1283-1289). Constructed as part of a wider project to create the walled town of Conwy, the combined defences cost around £15,000, a huge sum for the period. Over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several wars. It withstood the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn in the winter of 1294-95, acted as a temporary haven for Richard II in 1399 and was held for several months by forces loyal to Owain Glyndwr in 1401.
Following the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, the castle was held by forces loyal to Charles I until 1646 when it surrendered to the Parliamentary armies. In the aftermath the castle was partially slighted by Parliament to prevent its being used in any further revolt, and was finally ruined in 1665 when its remaining iron and lead were stripped and sold off. It became a picturesque destination for artists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
D4 Box Hill, Surrey, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
D263 Coast Scene, near Barmouth, The British Museum
D367 Study for Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California
E89 Théophile-Narcisse Chauvel after Wilson, Conway Castle, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth / Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru (PZ06940)
Clearly taken on the spot, the drawing is on two pages of a sketch book, each 162 mm (6 in.) wide. Other double pages from the same book seem to be D4 and D367. David Solkin proposed D263 as a single page from the same sketchbook and a further page with a drawing of a ruined tower is known but currently unlocated.
Ford 1951, p. 63, no. 76; Parris 1973, p. 32
06/09/2017