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Llyn Peris and Dolbadarn Castle
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Llyn Peris and Dolbadarn Castle
c.1764-65 (undated)
Oil on canvas
92.7 x 125.7 cm
36 1/2 x 49 1/2 in.
NMW A 72
P120A
The view is in Caernarvonshire (Gwynedd), North Wales, looking south along Llyn Padarn [sic], towards the ancient British fortress of Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris beyond with Snowdon in the distance. On the lake itself ducks are swimming and boats are sailing. Cattle graze on the banks to the left and further back a country house with a walled garden is set on a hill, later occupied by the now disused Dinorwig slate quarry. In the foreground two boys are fishing, one of whom has just caught an eel.
Manchester 1857 (Modern Masters, 40 - Landscape, lent by Edward Loyd); Venice 1938 (Sala 8, no. 1); Madrid and Lisbon 1949, Cien Anos de Pintura Britannica (53); London, Thomas Agnew & Sons 1956 (36); Montreal 1957 (77); Paris 1959 (206); Tokyo/Kyoto 1970-71 (51); Bordeaux 1977 (64); Madrid 1988-89 (10); Llanberis 1990 (S2); London Christie's 2005; Conwy 2009 (20); Tercentenary 2014 (127)
Edward Loyd; Lewis Loyd; Captain E.F. Loyd sale, Christie's London, 30 April 1937 (137 - Dolbaddaur Castle); bt by the National Museum of Wales
Unsigned; no inscription
Stretcher:
[1] Stencil: 10
[2] British Council - Exhibition of English Furniture in the 18th Century, Paris 1959, cat. no. 206
[3] British Council Venice 1938, no. 211
[4] British Council, 100 Years of British Painting, Lisbon & Madrid, 1949, no. 52
[5] Agnew's galleries, London 1956, no. 36
[6] British Council Ex. [the rest torn]
Frame:
[1] Japanese label P51 47
[2] French label: Le Chateau de Dolbadern 64, vers 1765
Dolbadarn Castle was built by Llywelyn Fawr in the early 13th century. It was an important stronghold of the princes of Gwynedd and commanded the route from Caernarvon to the upper valley of the Conwy. According to the traveller and antiquarian Thomas Pennant, the fortress was intended to defend the pass into the interior parts of Snowdonia and was used as a state prison (A Tour in Wales, vol. 2, 1783, p. 165). Overlooking Llyn Peris and commanding the route from Caernarvon to the upper Conwy Valley, the castle was popular with tourists in the late 18th century and became a central image in the history of Wales. It was later the subject of J.M.W. Turner's Diploma picture for the Royal Academy. In its various versions the subject has been given a number of different titles.
D343 Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris, The British Museum
E78/2 Havell after Wilson, The Ruined Fortress, The British Museum
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[1] Gaspard Dughet, Ideal Landcape , c.1658-60, Glasgow Museums
[2] Paul Sandby, Llyn Peris and Dolbadarn Castle, watercolour, 1764, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
[3] George Barret, Llanberis Lake and Dolbadarn Castle in the Mountains of Wales, 1777, Nottingham Castle Art Gallery and Museum, Nottingham
[4] J.M.W. Turner, Dolbadarn Castle, RA 1800, Royal Academy of Arts, London
Wilson has adapted the elements of the observed landscape so as to dignify the Welsh scene with classical associations and present it in the manner of his Italian precursor, Gaspard Dughet (1615-75). The hybridisation of Italy and Wales was reversed in other works such as P127 The Lake of Nemi or Speculum Dianae with Dolbadarn Castle (Diana and Callisto), Bristol City Museum & Gallery, which follows this composition. The painting has the portrait of a woman beneath it which may confirm an early date, the artist having reused an unsuccessful portrait commission to repeat a winning landscape formula.
Old accession number: 37.219
Old registration number: 474
1937.1
Pennant 1784, vol. 2, p. 157; Bury 1947, pp. 47, 65; WGC, p. 176 pl. 37b (version I (1); Cardiff 1961, pp. 20-21; Solkin 1981, p. 413, fig. 26; P. Joyner, ed., Dolbadarn: Studies on a Theme, Aberystwyth, 1990, pp. 29-40; Apollo, November 1990, p. 350; Lord 2009, p. 58, no. 20; E.A. Pergam, The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857: Entrepeneurs, Connoisseurs and the Public, Farnham, 2011, p. 302, no. 40; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 305
Kate Lowry has noted: Simple weave linen canvas, c. 13 threads per sq cm. Lined onto similar weight linen canvas with glue-paste adhesive. Original turnovers removed at time of relining. Pine stretcher dates from relining. Ground consists of a double layer of white priming containing lead white and chalk bound in oil. Opaquely painted throughout with some impasto in clouds and trees, though this has been flattened during lining. Underdrawing is visible in the IR image particularly in the boy fishing in the foreground and the house and hills in the distance. The X-radiograph shows that the canvas was previously used for a ¾ length portrait of a young woman. Paint cross-sections show the portrait was varnished before the canvas was reused for this landscape. Extensive drying cracks at lower right in middle ground and in trees at upper right are caused the artist's painting over an earlier composition.
16/01/2019