Llyn Cau, Cader Idris (A View of Cadair Idris)

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Llyn Cau, Cader Idris (A View of Cadair Idris)
Llyn Cau, Cader Idris (A View of Cadair Idris)
Llyn Cau, Cader Idris
(A View of Cadair Idris)
Private Collection, Wales / Photograph by Jerry Hardman-Jones
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Llyn Cau, Cader Idris (A View of Cadair Idris)
c. 1764-65 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 41 x 72 cm
Imperial: 16 1/8 x 28 5/16 in.
Private Collection, Wales
Wilson Online Reference
This view is taken from the slopes of Mynydd Moel, about a mile away from the volcanic lake of Llyn Cau near the summit of Cader Idris mountain in Merionethshire, North Wales. The viewer stands about 500 feet above the level of the lake. To the left is the valley of Dysynni, bordered by the cliffs of Craig Goch, while in the distance is the Bay of Cardigan.
Arts Council 1946 (12 - anonymous loan); London, Royal Academy, 1954-55 European Masters of the Eighteenth Century (74)
Probably acquired by Wilson's kinsman, Sir Roger Mostyn, Bart; thence by descent
Unsigned; no inscription
[1] Upper horizontal member of frame verso, printed and typescript exhibition label: The Arts Council of Great Britain | 9 Belgrave Square, London S.W.1 | Sloane 0421 | Some Masterpieces from | Welsh Houses 1946 | 12 | The Summit of Cader | Idris so called. | Richard Wilson.
[2] Upper horizontal member of frame verso, printed and typescript exhibition label: ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS | WINTER EXHIBITION 1954-55 EIGHTEENTH CENTURY | Wilson | Cader Idris | Ser No. | 437
[3] Upper horizontal member of frame verso, fragment of old octagonal (?) label handwritten in ink: 6 [?] and faintly indented: [illegible] / stairs / [illegible]
Wilson was probably the first artist to paint this scene. The landscape includes an imaginary foreground and other invented features, and the artist has heightened and regularised the the precipice of Craig-y-Cau at the rear so as to create a simplified and more balanced composition.
Related Prints
E22 Edward and Michael Angelo Rooker, The Summit of Cader-Idris Mountain, The British Museum, London and other impressions
Related Paintings
P12B Summer Evening (Caernarvon Castle), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
Critical commentary
David Solkin has commented that Wilson's departures from topographical fact allow him to wrest an inherent sense of order from a chaotic reality. As he also notes, the artist here presents Wales as a paradise of primitive simplicity, where mankind can retreat from the confusions of the modern world and contemplate the natural and divinely-ordained rhythms of life. The ‘discovery’ of such rugged and uncultivated scenery was greatly stimulated by the taste for the Sublime: previously it would have seemed only raw and disorderly. Richard Wilson was one of the first to adapt the conventions of landscape painting to this sort of scenery, and was a major influence on later artists, including Turner. The present work differs from P153, however, in being taken from a slightly higher viewpoint, and in omitting a strip of foreground and of sky, the mountain beyond the slope to the right and the man with the telescope, left of centre. Solkin noted that the other versions have more rocks in the lower left corner. He also identified the style as indicating a date of about 1764-65, which links P153A to P12B Summer Evening (Caernarvon Castle), Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven, also originally owned by Sir Roger Mostyn. Waterhouse proposed a date for P153A earlier than P153 on account of the less elaborate foreground and together these observations as well as the compiler's own support him and Solkin.
Pennant 1784, vol. 2, p. 88; Waterhouse 1946, pp. 227-28, pl. IA; WGC pp. 171-72 under pl. 31a (1); Solkin 1982, p. 224 under 116
More Information
As early as 1783 a version of the painting was invoked by the naturalist and antiquary Thomas Pennant when describing the summit of Cader Idris: 'At a nearer distance I saw Craig Cay, a great rock, with a lake beneath, lodged in a deep hollow; possibly the crater on an antient Vulcano. This is so excellently expressed by the admirable pencil of my kinsman, Mr. Wilson, that I shall not attempt the description.'
Kate Lowry has noted: Examined off display in its frame, unglazed and not backed. Frame is gilt-compo, later in style than the painting. It appears to have been cut down from a larger size to fit this painting and this is evidenced by glued and screwed joints visible on the reverse of the frame at centre top and bottom. More recently (2010) the frame has been regessoed and regilded. The original corner mouldings were not reinstated prior to the regilding, leaving the outer corners quite plain. The painting is held in frame with pins and tape.
Support: Simple weave linen canvas, relined relatively recently onto a heavier cotton duck material with wax-resin adhesive. Original turnover edges were not examined as covered by the frame rebate and by adhesive tape at reverse. The lining and its attachment to the stretcher appear to be secure and in good condition. The accessory support is a four-member pine stretcher with square mortice joints and provision for keying out. Good condition. Not original, probably late nineteenth century and dating from an earlier relining treatment.
Ground: The original ground colour is pale pink and this is visible beneath the sky in areas of minor paint loss.
Paint Film: The landscape foreground is underpainted with a warm transparent brown tone. There is a general pattern of mature cracks throughout the painting but there are no drying cracks. Under UV light and, to some extent under normal light, old retouching of mature cracks is visible in the sky. There are no retouchings present in any part of the landscape. The minute raised cracks in the sky, which have resulted in a scattering of minor paint losses, have not been retouched. At present all the paint appears to be secure. There are no major damages to the paint film or support visible under UV light.
Surface coating: The resin varnish coating is evenly applied with no build up of old varnish visible in the darker passages of paint. Retouches in the sky overlie this varnish film. Under close examination tiny specks of discoloured varnish remaining from a previous coating are visible throughout the sky, but this does not affect the overall general appearance of the painting, which is excellent. Varnish removal and the revarnishing of the painting with Laropal K80 was carried out by Gerard Tudhope in 2010.
The painting contains characteristic features that indicate this is a work by Richard Wilson at the peak of his power. In particular, the manner in which the tiny figures and animals dotted across the landscape are used to reinforce its depth and recession whilst adding to its interest and narrative content; the drawing down of the sky paint to the distant horizon and also to the central peak, where the slightly ragged brush stroke gives the effect of rough windswept grass at the mountain top; and the rendering of the distant sea, scattered with the sails of tiny boats, and the hills beyond, by scumbling light tones over darker ones to produce a very convincing effect of aerial perspective. Particularly striking is the fact that there is no single area in this painting that lacks its requisite detail or definition, which can sometimes be the case in Wilson's landscapes. Altogether an extremely high quality painting in good condition.
Updated by Compiler
2016-08-05 00:00:00