Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle

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Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Nottingham Castle
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Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
c.1765-67 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 103.6 x 126.3 cm.
Imperial: 40 3/4 x 49 3/4in.
Accession Number
NMC 1904-85
Wilson Online Reference
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.
SA January 1766 (189 - a version: North-west view of Snowden and its environs); BI 1849 (115); London 1925 (47); Manchester 1925 (68); Liverpool 1933; London 1934 (173); Birmingham, Art Treasures of the Midlands, 1934 (298); Hull 1936 (52 - Snowdon); Paris 1938 (154); London, Roland Browse and Delbanco 1946, Lyrical Pictures in British Art; Birmingham 1948-9 (45); London 1949 (44); on loan to Laing Art Gallery Newcastle 1953; Rotterdam 1955 (68); Leicester 1956, A Hundred Years of British Landscape Painting 1750-1850; Montreal 1957 (78); Moscow 1960 (16); London Royal Academy 1962, Primitives to Picasso (298); Herron Museum of Art USA 1965, The Romantic Era 1750-1850 (17); British Council 1966-67, Cologne, Rome, Zurich, Warsaw, British Painting; Welsh Arts Council 1969/70 Old Master Touring Exhibition (11); British Council Japan 1970-71, English Landscape Painting; Paris 1972 (337); Milan 1975 British Painting 1660-1840 (48); Hamburg Kunsthalle 1975, Turner and the Landscape of his Times; Australia 1977-78, British 17th and 18th Century Painting; London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (117b); Madrid 1988-89 (11); Toshigi and Shizuoka Prefectural Museums Japan 1992-93, Sun, Wind and Rain: The Awakening of British Landscape Painting (22); London, Royal Academy 1998, Art Treasures of England (48); Ghent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten 2007-8, British Vision: Observation and Imagination in British Art 1750-1950 (112)
Bequeathed by Richard Godson Millns, 1904
Unsigned, no inscription
Techniques and materials
The pinkish background or underpainting visible at the upper left and the nicely impastoed clouds upper left denote the work as authentic. The foreground is thinly painted with unresolved leaves and highlighting. There is overpaint or simplification along the mountain tops at the upper right edge.
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.'
Related Drawings
D367 Study for Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California
Related Prints
E30 William Woollett after Wilson Snowden Hill and the adjacent Country in North Wales (1775); other states and impressions
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Related Works by Other Artists
[1] Thomas Sunderland (1744-1823), Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle watercolour, National Museum Wales (NMW A 5767)
[2] George Barret, 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
Critical commentary
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 Alex Kidson has remarked with reference to P152, while continuing to echo the precepts of Claude and Dughet, Wilson has here fused them with a concern for the particular in nature which became one of the mainsprings of Romanticism. Seen at such a distance, the peaks seem to mark the protective boundaries of an enclosed garden, an Arcadian retreat for moral contemplation.
Pennant 1784 vol. 2, p. 188; Booth Notes Doc. 4, p. 2; Rutter 1923, appendix III; J. B. Manson, The Burlington Magazine, vol. 67, 1925, p. 40, pl. 11c; Pantheon, vol. 13, 2 February 1934, p. 52; Commemorative Catalogue 1934 (100, pl. XXXVI); R. Edwards, 'Richard Wilson II - Mood in Landscape-Painting', Country Life, November 23, 1945, pp. 914-15; Waterhouse 1953, p. 176; WGC, p. 186, under pl. 55; Plates 1957 no.1; F.I. McCarthy, 'Wilson's Snowdon: Its Bi-centenary January 1966', National Library of Wales Journal XIV 1966, pp. 361-65; Herrmann 1973, p. 57, col. pl. VI; Solkin 1982, pp. 225-26, no. 117b; Wilton 1984, p. 65; exh. cat. Art Treasures of England: The Regional Collections 1998, p. 124, repr.; R. Hoozee ed., British Vision, 2007, pp. 194-95; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 26, fig. 27 & p. 265
More Information
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]
Repaired tears in the right central area. Cleaned by Arthur Lucas in 1957. Glue relined; Stretcher probably dates from lining. Vection cracks show that the original stretcher bars were 2 1/2 ins. wide. Lining was probably carried out because of long vertical tears in the canvas just right of centre. These are visible in normal light and under UV. Original turnover edges removed at time of lining but the present edges of the painted canvas do not appear to have been trimmed as they are slightly uneven and show some exposed ground, especially at upper left edge. Ground is pinkish in colour and probably a commercial preparation. There are no pentimenti, suggesting that this is a secondary version.
Updated by Compiler
2022-02-08 00:00:00