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Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool / The Bridgeman Art Library
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
c.1765-66 (undated)
Oil on canvas
101 x 127 cm
39 3/4 x 50 in.
WAG 2429
P152
An eastward view from the western end of Llyn Nantlle, Gwynedd, North Wales, where a stream called Afon Llyfynwy runs out of the lake. 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).
SA January 1766 (189 - a version); BI 1849 (115) - lent Sir R.W.Vaughan; Hull 1936 (53); Birmingham 1948-49 (35); London 1949 (34); Hamburg 1949 (118); Paris 1953 (96); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (117a); Tercentenary 2014 (79)
William Vaughan of Cors y Gedol (1707-1775); Sir R. W. Vaughan; Gen J.V. Vaughan, Nannau, Dolgellau; sold Christie's 20 June 1930 (114 - Snowdon from Llyn Ogwen); bt Agnew (£609, #7176); bt by the Walker Art Gallery, 8 March 1935
Unsigned, no inscription
The mountain profile peak at the right has been heightened and below it are some broad, burnt sienna streaks of highlighting.
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
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[1] Thomas Sunderland Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle watercolour, National Museum Wales, NMW A 5767
[2] J.M.W. Turner, Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower, RA 1798, Tate, London (N00460 )
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 noted by Kidson, while continuing to echo the precepts of Claude and Dughet, Wilson has fused them here with a concern for the particular in nature, which became one of the mainsprings of Romanticism. The deep significance of the work for the nascent iconography of Welsh landscape is reflected in the person of its original owner. William Vaughan of Cors y Gedol, a wealthy landowner and distant relative of the artist, was a leading figure in the Celtic Revival then underway.
Pennant 1784 vol. 2, p. 188; WGC, pp. 93, 186, pl. 55; Solkin 1978, p. 408, fig.4; Solkin 1982, pp. 225-26, no.117a; Kidson 2012, pp. 264-68; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 265; Solkin 2015, pp. 214-15, 224
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]
Glue-paste relined. Four member stretcher with corner bracing. Mid-brown ground colour. Strong circular cracks in sky. Some blanched retouches present. Discoloured varnish and retouches removed in 1956 and painting revarnished with synthetic resin. 1956 record suggests that asphaltum could be the reason for the pronounced craquelure. Surface-cleaned by Jim France in 1982. More thinly painted with more subtle transitions than P152A. There are pentimenti along the edges of the right hand precipices. The original outline at the right was straighter on the mountain and raised mountain on the extreme right. The main branches of the tree at the right are painted over reserves.