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The Valley of the Mawddach, with Cader Idris
National Museum Wales, Cardiff
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
The Valley of the Mawddach, with Cader Idris
Undated
Oil on canvas
60 x 75.5 cm
23 5/8 x 29 3/4 in.
NMW A 2865
P179C
The view is of the peaks of Mynydd Moel and Cader Idris from a point several miles to the north-east, near the banks of the River Mawddach in Merionethshire, North Wales. The town of Dolgellau is hidden by the hill on the right of the view and a house called Gelligemlyn is visible in the valley.
Hull 1936 (46 - View in North Wales); Arts Council 1947 (6 - View in Wales: Cader Idris)
Douglas William Freshfield, Wych Cross Place, Forest Row, Sussex; Christie's London, 2 November 1934 (147 - A View in Wales, with a winding river and hills in the distance), bt Spink (£110.5.0.); with Spink & Son Ltd, 5,6,7, King Street, London S.W.1. (Plinlimmon and the River Wye); bt by National Art Collections Fund (£200) and presented to the National Museum of Wales, 1934
Unsigned; no inscription
The picture is one of several views that Wilson painted from this location, one of which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1774. The most imposing landmark is the summit of Mynydd Moel in the centre, and to its right lies Cader Idris, which contains the volcanic lake, Llyn Cau, depicted in P153. The mountain was traditionally the focus of numerous legends, supposedly the home of a monstrous giant and a Welsh seat of King Arthur. One of the factors likely to have prompted Wilson to paint this countryside, apart from its rugged beauty, was this mythological association, comparable with the classical legends of Italy.
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This is one of the last of Wilson's great compositions. He must have been familiar from his youth with the landscape of the Mawddach Valley. However, when he painted it he was beginning to suffer from the alcoholism, which ended his career in obscurity and poverty. The three descending figures in the foreground provide a typical Wilsonian motif.
403
Burlington Magazine, December 1934 advertisement; WGC pp. 180-81, pl. 45a (version 2)
06/04/2022