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Portrait of Richard Owen of Ynysymaengwyn
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Portrait of Richard Owen of Ynysymaengwyn
c.1748-50 (undated)
Oil on canvas
76.8 x 63.5 cm
30 x 25 in.
NMW A 5005
P27
The sitter is shown bust-length almost full face, with ribboned hair in a fictive stonework oval frame. He wears a gold-frogged dark blue coat and a white satin waistcoat with white stock and black ribbon. Although his dress has something of a naval appearance, it is not a uniform and there is no recorded explanation of why he should have worn one.
Welsh Arts Council 1969; Conwy 2009 (1)
Richard Owen of Ynysymaengwyn; by descent through the Corbet family of Ynysymaengwyn; 1951 given to the National Museum of Wales by the executors of Miss E.H. Corbett, of Church Stretton and Ynysymaengwyn
Unsigned; undated; no inscription
The flesh tones are painted over a partially exposed grey ground and the costume details handled lightly, as was usual for Wilson. Trees are dimly discernible through the fictive oval frame to the right.
No inscription was revealed beneath lining by Infra-red imaging
Richard Owen (c. 1714-1760) was the son of Athelstan and Anne Owen of Ynysymaengwyn, Tywyn, Merioneth and brother of Anne Owen (P226). High Sheriff of Merioneth in 1756-7, he was a member of the circle of Welsh patrons who helped to sustain Wilson's early career as a portrait painter from the mid-1730s until his departure for Italy in 1750. Richard Owen died without issue and the family estates passed to his sister Anne who had married Pryce Maurice of Lloran Uchaf, Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant, Denbighshire in 1740.
P226 Portrait of Anne Owen, Miles Wynn Cato Gallery, Ludlow
1951.1
WGC, pp. 152-5, pl. 4a; J. Steegman, Burlington Magazine, vol. 94, no. 592, July 1952, pp. 206-8; Lord 2009, p. 48, no.1
The Ynysymaengwyn estate is located near Tywyn in Merioneth. It was settled on Richard, a second son, in 1750 by his mother Anne (d. 1760) who had married Athelstan Owen (1676-1731) of Rhiwsaeson, Llanbryn-mair. Corbet Owen, the eldest son, died without issue in 1750, following which the Rhiwsaeson estate was sold. Richard Owen also died childless so the estate passed to her daughter Anne (d. 1767), who had married Pryce Maurice of Lloran, Llansilin in 1740. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Corbet family of Ynysymaengwyn played a leading role in the Tywyn area. They were still patrons of Welsh culture in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Lined. IR image shows that the sitter originally held a hat under his left arm. According to Steegman, the picture was overcleaned about 1800 and cleaned again and lined about 1900. It was also partially cleaned and retouched on acquisition by the National Museum of Wales in 1951.
Kate Lowry has noted: Original canvas, simple weave linen with c.16 threads per sq cm. Original turnovers removed at time of lining. Glue relined. Pine stretcher probably dates from lining. Pale grey oil ground. Flesh tones underpainted with a darker grey and the background with a thin brown tone. Widespread mature cracks. Paint appears to be abraded towards the top edge revealing the pale ground tone on canvas weave tops. Both shoulders have pentimenti where position of outline has been changed by artist. Paint in face is slightly worn. Large old damage filled and retouched in sitters forehead at right.