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Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Shizuoka Prefectural Museum, Shizuoka, Japan
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Undated
Oil on canvas
98.5 x 125.7 cm (painted surface)
38 3/4 x 49 1/2 in. (painted surface)
P152B
An eastward view from the western end of Llynnieu Nantlle, Gwynedd, North Wales, where the stream Afon Llyfni ran out towards the sea. In the central distance is Y Wyddfa, the summit of Snowdon, and beneath it a sunlit knoll, known as Clogwyn y Gareg. In the middle ground are the slopes of Mynydd Mawr (left) and two unidentified peaks (right), perhaps intended as Mynydd Tal y Mignedd and Trum y Ddysgl - all beautifully reflected in the water. Several boats are sailing on the lakes and in the central foreground two fishermen and a woman with a baby are sihouetted against the water.
SA January 1766 (189 - a version: North-west view of Snowden and its environs); London Royal Academy, Old Masters, 1892 (40, lent by H.W. Worsley Taylor); London, Guildhall 1899 (162, lent by F. Worsley Taylor, dimensions misprinted)
S. Theobold Smith, 22 Jermyn Street London; Christie's 7 December 1889 (23, unsold at 19 guineas against reserve of 20 guineas); Major Corbett Winder, Vaynol Park, Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, Mid-Wales; Christie's 23 May 1890 (106 - sold for 15 guineas to G.C. Bartrop; apparently sold on joint behalf with S.T. Smith above); H.W. Worsley-Taylor; F. Worsley-Taylor; Sir James Worsley-Taylor and by descent to Dorothea Worsley-Taylor, Haslemere, Surrey; Strutt & Parker 1986; Bill Thomson Albany Gallery, 1 Bury Street St James's, London SW1Y 6AB; bt Shizuoka Perfectural Museum, 15 Sept 1993
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Britain. W.G. Constable noted that a year after Wilson's death, Thomas Pennant wrote of 'two fine lakes called Llynnieu Nantlle which form two handsome expanses, with a very small distance between them. From hence is a noble view of the Wyddfa, which terminates the view through the visto of Drws y Coed. It is from this spot Mr. Wilson has favoured us with a view, as magnificent as it is faithful.' Pennant concluded, 'Few are sensible of this for few visit the spot.'
D367 Study for Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California
E30 William Woollett after Wilson Snowden Hill and the adjacent Country in North Wales (1775); other states and impressions
See 'Links' tab
[1] Thomas Sunderland (1744-1823), Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle watercolour, National Museum Wales (NMW A 5767)
[2] George Barret Sr, Llyn Nantlle, North Wales, 1763-64, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter, Devon (359/1971)
[3] J.M.W. Turner, Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower, RA 1798, Tate, London (N00460)
[4] Antony Vandyke Copley Fielding, Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle, c.1830, The National Library of Wales/Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru
Wilson shows great sensitivity to the site and his sense of design and tonal value invests the rugged grandeur of his native Welsh mountains with a strong and timeless dignity, emphasised by the distant smoke seemingly suspended in the atmosphere and rendering the human activity in the foreground and on the lake insignificant and transitory. Yet, as Alex Kidson has remarked with reference to P152, while continuing to echo the precepts of Claude and Dughet, Wilson has here fused them with a concern for the particular in nature which became one of the mainsprings of Romanticism. This is very probably the version described by Benjamin Booth as in the collection of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn at Wynnstay, along with a view of Cader Idris (P179A).
Pennant 1784 vol. 2, p. 188; Booth Notes Doc. 4, p. 2; WGC, p. 186 pl. 55 (untraced versions 2 & 3); Bury 1947, pl. 46; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 265
Today there is only one expanse of water, Llyn Uchad, the further lake visible here, but in the 18th century there were two separate lakes, upper and lower, divided by a spit of land. The lower lake, Llyn Isaf, seen here in the foreground, was drained in the 19th century in order to protect neighbouring slate quarries from flooding.
A currently untraced version attributed to 'R. Wilson' together with an impression of Woollett's engraving E30 was sold at Christie's, 13 January 1894 (37) - bt Andrews (20 gns). Measuring 48 x 48 1/2 in. it was from the collection of Thomas Woolner R.A. and had been exhibited at the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition of 1872 (24). [Information kindly supplied by Donato Esposito]
Relined in early 20th century; some impasto had been lost but much of the original glazing remained under heavy and much darkened mastic varnish. After this was removed only minor restoration was needed, paint loss being minimal. Conserved by Martin Wyld, 1986.
08/02/2022