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Llyn Cau, Cader Idris
Private Collection / Photograph by Matthew Hollow
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Llyn Cau, Cader Idris
Oil on canvas
50 x 74 cm (sight size)
19 11/16 x 29 1/8 in. (sight size)
Private Collection, London
This view is taken from the slopes of Mynydd Moel, about a mile away from the volcanic lake of Llyn Cau near the summit of Cader Idris mountain in Merionethshire, North Wales. The viewer stands about 500 feet above the level of the lake. To the left is the valley of Dysynni, bordered by the cliffs of Craig Goch, while in the distance is the Bay of Cardigan.
H.W. Worsley-Taylor; F. Worsley-Taylor; Sir James Worsley-Taylor and by descent to Dorothea Worsley-Taylor, Haslemere, Surrey; Sotheby's London, 15 March 1978 (114), bt present owner
Wilson was probably the first artist to paint this scene.The landscape includes an imaginary foreground and other invented features. The artist has heightened and regularised the precipice of Craig-y-Cau at the rear so as to create a simplified and more balanced composition.
E22 Edward & Michael Angelo Rooker, The Summit of Cader-Idris Mountain, The British Museum, London
E90 George Cooke, Cader Idris, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth/Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru
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David Solkin has commented that Wilson's departures from topographical fact allow him to wrest an inherent sense of order from a chaotic reality. As he also notes, the artist here presents Wales as a paradise of primitive simplicity, where mankind can retreat from the confusions of the modern world and contemplate the natural and divinely-ordained rhythms of life. The discovery of such rugged and uncultivated scenery was greatly stimulated by the taste for the Sublime: previously it would have seemed only raw and disorderly. Richard Wilson was one of the first to adapt the conventions of landscape painting to this sort of scenery, and was a major influence on later artists, including Turner.
Pennant 1784, vol. 2, p. 88
As early as 1783 a version of the painting was invoked by the naturalist and antiquary Thomas Pennant when describing the summit of Cader Idris: 'At a nearer distance I saw Craig Cay, a great rock, with a lake beneath, lodged in a deep hollow; possibly the crater on an antient Vulcano. This is so excellently expressed by the admirable pencil of my kinsman, Mr. Wilson, that I shall not attempt the description.'