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Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Miles Wynn Cato Gallery
Studio of Wilson
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Undated
Oil on canvas
81.5 x 111.7 cm
32 1/16 x 44 in.
Private Collection, Wales
P152D
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.
Frost & Reed by May 1932; [...]; private collection, Bristol
Unsigned; no inscription
Pink ground (not grey, as more usual for later works)
[1] Upper stretcher bar, pencil: 'Reline'
[2] Upper stretcher bar, pencil: 'New frame'
[3] Left central stretcher bar pencil: '2844'
Verso of frame:
[1] Frost & Reed, May 23 1932 no. 2488
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
Booth Notes Doc. 4, p. 2.
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]
Original canvas size: 80.7mm x 110.3 cm. Kate Lowry has noted (3 November 2018): Viewed without frame. The original support is a medium weight, simple weave linen canvas. Original turnovers were removed at time of lining. Relined by Frost & Reed in the 1930s onto a similar weight linen with animal glue adhesive. The seven-member pine stretcher is not original but probably dates from the late 19th century, suggesting that the original support has been lined more than once. The pine stretcher has square mortice joints and provision for keying out. All keys present and tied in position. On the reverse of one of the stretcher members inscribed in pencil: 'Reline' and 'New frame'. There is also an inventory number '2844' relating to the painting's time at Frost & Reed. No other distinguishing marks. The ground or priming is pink in colour and this can be easily observed in the sky where the overlying paint film is quite worn. The ground layer underlies all of the paint film and is smooth and even in application. The paint film has suffered severe mature cracking overall and this is particularly noticeable in the sky area where the cracks are raised. Under ultra-violet light the retouches along these cracks are visible above the current varnish film, whilst the obvious greenish overpainting of the clouds in the left hand sky area appears to underlie the varnish, suggesting more than one retouching treatment. The foreground lake also appears to be much overpainted and this is also under the present varnish film. Other retouches on top of the varnish are visible outlining the tree trunks at the right of the composition and in horizontal lower branches in trees at both the left and the right of the painting. The perspective of the stream at the centre bottom of the composition appears rather awkward but this may be due to later overpainting. The original paint of the foreground is quite worn, as is the foliage of the trees against the sky. The two little boats out on the lake, the foreground figures and the small lodge building toward the left of the composition are quite typical of Wilson, however the light reflected from distant body of water beyond the immediate lake is uncharacteristically heavy-handed. In its present overpainted condition it is difficult to judge the quality of the original painting. However there are features visible that would seem to link this work quite closely to Wilson and his immediate circle. A further viewing once the painting has been restored should enable a fairer assessment of its status. (4 February 2019): The painting was viewed again after cleaning, revarnishing and retouching by Annabelle Monaghan ACR. Removal of much of the greenish overpaint in the sky has made a great difference to the work's appearance. In the foreground the removal of old retouching has made the stream more believable. The lake and bank in the foreground are quite thin but read much better without their previous layers of old retouching. The whole composition can now be seen to have a lovely cool pearly light and hangs well together. In comparison with the other versions of this subject by Wilson this is the only one to show an additional thicker tree trunk at the far right, a feature which also occurs in the engraving by William Woollett published in 1775 (E30). The proportions of this painting also differ from other versions of the subject and are similar to those of the print. The stylised curving tree branches against the sky at the right hand side and the rather mechanical rendering of the tree bark suggest that the work may be from Wilson's studio rather than by the master himself. The work is not signed or dated.

08/03/2022