Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris

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Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris
Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris
Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (Felton Bequest, 1949)
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris
c.1762-64 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 96 x 131 cm
Imperial: 37 13/16 x 51 9/16 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
The view is in Caernarvonshire (Gwynedd), North Wales, looking south along Llyn Padarn [sic], towards the ancient British fortress of Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris beyond with Snowdon in the distance. On the lake itself ducks are swimming and boats are sailing. Cattle graze on the banks to the left and further back a country house with a walled garden is set on a hill, later occupied by the now disused Dinorwig slate quarry. In the foreground two boys are fishing, one of whom has just caught an eel. Next to them a pitchfork or some spades lie discarded by the fallen tree trunk.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, The Great Eighteenth Century Exhibition, 1983 (no cat. nos); London, Cardiff and New Haven, 1982-83 (105)
Anon sale Christie's 15 July 1899 (67 - Italian Riverscene, and Castle, 37 x 50 in.), bt Tooth; Pierpont Morgan, New York; his daughter, Mrs Herbert L. Satterlee, New York; Herbert L. Satterlee, New York; sold Parke Bernet, New York, 22 April 1948 (21 - Pozzuoli from across the Bay of Baiae), bt Weitzner, New York; 1948, with Arthur Tooth & Sons, London; acquired on the advice of A.J.L. McDonnell and Sir Kenneth Clark for the Felton Bequest in 1948; arrived Melbourne in 1949
Signed on the rock at the left: RW [monogram, the R reversed]
Techniques and materials
Very beautifully differentiated technique and fresh impasto in the clouds. The details of the distant figures, animals and boats are carefully painted, as is the variegated foreground undergrowth. The horizon line is drawn down from the sky in the accustomed Wilson manner. A possible third figure or tree stump is discernible to the naked eye behind and to the left of the fisherman with the eel.
Dolbadarn Castle was built by Llywelyn Fawr in the early 13th century. It was an important stronghold of the princes of Gwynedd and commanded the route from Caernarvon to the upper valley of the Conwy. According to the traveller and antiquarian Thomas Pennant, the fortress was intended to defend the pass into the interior parts of Snowdonia and was used as a state prison (A Tour in Wales, vol. 2, 1783, p. 165). Overlooking Llyn Peris and commanding the route from Caernarvon to the upper Conwy Valley, the castle was popular with tourists in the late 18th century and became a central image in the history of Wales. It was later the subject of J.M.W. Turner's Diploma picture for the Royal Academy. In its various versions the subject has been given a number of different titles.
Related Drawings
D343 Dolbadarn Castle and Llyn Peris, The British Museum
Related Prints
E78/2 Havell after Wilson, The Ruined Fortress, The British Museum
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Related Paintings
P127 The Lake of Nemi or Speculum Dianae with Dolbadarn Castle, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery
P112 View in Windsor Great Park, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
Related Works by Other Artists
[1] Gaspard Dughet, Ideal Landscape , c.1658-60, Glasgow Museums
[2] Paul Sandby, Llyn Peris and Dolbadarn Castle, watercolour, 1764, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
[3] George Barret Sr, Llanberis Lake and Dolbadarn Castle in the Mountains of Wales, 1777, Nottingham Castle Art Gallery and Museum, Nottingham
[4] J.M.W. Turner, Dolbadarn Castle, RA 1800, Royal Academy of Arts, London
Critical commentary
As recognised by David Solkin, this may have been the first Welsh landscape that Wilson painted after his stay in Italy. In a deliberate attempt to add serious intellectual meaning to an exercise in landscape topography he has forced the rugged outlines of the natural site into the civilising contours of classical landscape art. As a result the picture hardly resembles the actual place. Dolbadarn Castle itself, however, had acquired added status as a ruin symbolic of ancient Britain's glorious past. The composition was used again by Wilson in about 1764/65 in P127 Lake of Nemi or Speculum Dianae with Dolbadarn Castle, Bristol City Art Gallery.
Pennant 1784, vol. 2, p. 157; WGC, pp. 89, 100, 176, pl. 37b; Hoff 1973, pp. 165-66, fig. 207; D.H. Solkin 1981, p. 413, pl. 26; Solkin 1982, pp. 215-16 and chapter IV; J. Clark, The Great Eighteenth Century Exhibition, Melbourne 1983, pp. 96-97; Tomory & Gaston 1989, p. 52, no. 141, repr.; Hoff 1995, pp. 319-20
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
In a period or nineteenth-century frame. Glazed. Cleaned before acquisition. Relined. Probably at the time of relining the paint surface was extended by strip of about 2.5 cm at the top and bottom, perhaps to fit a frame. There are some old repaired damages to the sky.
Updated by Compiler
2021-06-14 00:00:00