Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle

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Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool / The Bridgeman Art Library
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle
c.1765-66 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 101 x 127 cm
Imperial: 39 3/4 x 50 in.
Accession Number
WAG 2429
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 - lent Sir R.W.Vaughan); Hull 1936 (53); Birmingham 1948-49 (35); London 1949 (34); Hamburg 1949 (118); Paris 1953 (96); Munich 1958 (226); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (117a); Tercentenary 2014 (79)
Bt from the artist by William Vaughan of Cors y Gedol (1707-1775); Sir R. W. Vaughan; Major-General John Vaughan (1871-1956), Nannau, Dolgellau; sold Christie's 20 June 1930 (114 - Snowdon from Llyn Ogwen); bt Agnew, together with a framed print by William Woollett (£609, #7176); bt by the Walker Art Gallery, 8 March 1935
Unsigned, no inscription
Techniques and materials
The mountain profile peak at the right has been heightened and below it are some broad, burnt sienna streaks of highlighting.
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
See 'Links' tab
Related Works by Other Artists
[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
Critical commentary
Probably the prime version of a composition Wilson repeated more than once. The artist 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. Alex Kidson has noted that Wilson has dramatised the view by making the right hand ridge steeper and by bringing the central massif closer to the viewer, adding that the topography is nevertheless surprisingly accurate by the standards of eighteenth-century landscape painting. Wilson thus shows here 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; Booth Notes Doc. 4, p. 2; Waterhouse 1953, p. 176, pl. 143; WGC, pp. 93, 186, pl. 55; Solkin 1978, p. 408, fig.4; Solkin 1982, pp. 225-26, no.117a; Wilton 1984, p. 65; Kidson 2012, pp. 264-69, pl. 18; Wilson and Europe 2014, p. 265; Solkin 2015, pp. 214-15, 224
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
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]. The status and genesis of P152 are discussed at length in Kidson 2012.
Kate Lowry has noted: Gilt compo frame, glazed with low-reflective glass. Viewed in frame on display. 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. Cool bluish tone prevails throughout. More thinly painted with more subtle transitions than P152A. Reserve for tree-trunk and branches visible at left and right. 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. Sky sometimes drawn down to the mountain profile as centre right and sometimes mountain painted up over the sky as far right.
Updated by Compiler
2022-02-07 00:00:00