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Neath Castle Glamorganshire
Private Collection, England / Photograph by John Hammond
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Neath Castle Glamorganshire
c.1765-70 (undated)
Oil on canvas
37.5 x 45 cm
14 3/4 x 17 3/4 in.
Private Collection, England
BB24
P151
Brighton 1920 (40); Mold 1923; Bangor 1925 (16); London 1925 (57); Conwy 2009 (21); Weston 2011 (21); Gainsborough House 2014 (unnumbered)
Benjamin Booth; perhaps his sale, Christie's 30 May 1809 (87); The Revd. R.S. Booth; Richard Ford; Sir Francis Clare Ford; Captain R. Ford; Brinsley Ford; Lady Ford
Unsigned; no inscription
Neath Castle was one of the minor Norman castles in the lordship of Glamorgan. Like the Romans before them, the Normans chose this strategic spot, guarding the river crossing, for a stronghold. The main surviving feature of the castle is the great twin-towered gatehouse on its west side. This belongs to the latest phase in its 250 year history. The first castle was a ringwork known to have been built in the 12th century by Robert, Earl of Gloucester. It was much harried by the Welsh and was rebuilt sometime in the early 13th century, The castle was again severely damaged by enemies of the unpopular lord of Glamorgan, Hugh Despenser. It was the 14th-century rebuilding after this attack that gave it its magnificent gatehouse. Only the fronts of the great D-shaped towers and the arch between them survive. The steps of the old gateway, now uncovered again, were buried and a drawbridge used instead. Jutting out from the front of the right-hand tower is the broken end of the town wall. This painting is a noteworthy early record of industrial development in Wales as the chimneys of Neath's furnaces are clearly visible in the background of an otherwise medieval subject. The district of Neath was a popular stop for the aspiring traveller in South Wales since the two main routes from England - the coastal road from Chepstow to Newport and the Heads of the Valley Road from Ross to Abergavenny - converged there.
E72/10 Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Neath Castle, Glamorganshire, 1821, The British Museum (1854,0708.67)
E72/10A Thomas Hastings after Wilson, Neath Castle, Glamorganshire, 1821, National Museum Wales, Cardiff (NMW A 5989) and other impressions
Concentrating on the castle, unframed by trees and with the burgeoning industrialisation of Neath undisguised in the background, this simple study was probably made on the spot. Tradition and antiquity are thus revealed as potentially vulnerable to the incursions of the developing town.
Booth Notes Doc. 9 (16); WGC, pp. 92, 182, pl. 47b; Walpole Society 1998-I, p. 17, BB23; Lord 2009, pp. 19 repr. & 58, no. 21; Williams 2011, p. 32, repr.
Previously known as Welsh Landscape