Dinas Bran from Llangollen - I (Lake Scene with Mountains)

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Dinas Bran from Llangollen - I (Lake Scene with Mountains)
Dinas Bran from Llangollen - I (Lake Scene with Mountains)
Dinas Bran from Llangollen - I (Lake Scene with Mountains)
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Dinas Bran from Llangollen - I (Lake Scene with Mountains)
c.1772-75 (undated)
Oil on canvas
Metric: 85.8 x 108 cm
Imperial: 33 3/4 x 42 1/2 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
The prospect is from a point along the banks of the River Dee in Denbighshire and leads the eye towards Llangollen village and up to the western side of Castell Dinas Bran (Crow Castle). The large expanse of territory surrounding Dinas Bran belonged to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Baronet (1748-1789), paramount landlord of Denbighshire and one of the richest men in Britain. In actuality however, the fortress is hemmed in by hills and far less imposing than it appears here.The village of Llangollen and surrounding mountains are illuminated from the right in the morning light. Figures in the right foreground pull in a fishing net, the far end of which is held by the two figures in the boat beyond. Water flows over the weir in the centre and then out towards the left.
Manchester 1857 (Modern Masters, 38 - Vale of Llangollen); Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia, 11 March-13 June 2005, Island to Empire: 300 Years of British Art 1550-1850: Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings, Sculptures from the Collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, (unnumbered); Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia, Making Nature: Masters of European Landscape Art, 26 June-6 September 2009 (unnumbered)
Captain E.N.F. Lloyd; sold Christie's, London, 30 April 1937 (138 - Welsh River Scene); bt Hyam; Frank and Gladys Penfold Hyland, Sydney; gift of Gladys Penfold Hyland in memory of her husband Frank, 1964
Techniques and materials
Much more thinly and naturalistically painted in parts than P165 and much smaller. A light grey ground shows through in places, such as along the middle ground on the banks of the river. The clouds are well picked out along the edges in impasto and the sky is brought down to the horizon. The scumbling on the hill below Dinas Bran itself is quick. A pentimento of a mountain peak is visible top left and another one shows that the figures in the boat were originally further to the left. The tree trunk and some foliage at the right are reserved out and there is a possible pentimento at the top right of the tree. A pinkish-brown underlayer of paint shows through in places at its interstices. The water is very painterly in style especially at the left.
Verso inscriptions
[1] Upper horizontal of stretcher, white chalk: 138
[2] Vertical central member of stretcher, white chalk: April 30 37
[1] Upper hoizontal member of frame, old handwritten label in pen: 12
[2] Upper right corner of frame, half-torn pasted label: Art Treasures | 1857 | Edward Lloyd Esq | Proprietor
[3] Upper horizontal of stretcher, white chalk: 138
The western side of the ancient hill fortress of Dinas Bran (or Crow Castle as Wilson called it in 1771), overlooked the River Dee and Llangollen, with the 14th century bridge and the church tower of St Gollen downstream at the right, the proprietors of which were the Williams-Wynn family. The castle, traditionally an old royal Welsh fortress, was on the property of Wynn's neighbours, the Myddeltons, from nearby Chirk Castle, who were Members of Parliament for the other Denbighshire seat. Wilson has much exaggerated the height. However, most of the features, including the bridge, church tower of 1749, and the rocky outcrop in the river at the centre of the composition, are faithfully rendered and Wilson's location is still recognisable today.
Related Drawings
D374 Castell Dinas Bran, Wales, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
D374A Dinas Bran from Llangollen National Museum Wales, Cardiff
One of several versions of P165, originally commissioned by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn in 1769. See 'Links' tab
Related Works by Other Artists
Claude Lorraine (1600-82), A River Landscape with Jacob, Laban and his Daughters, Petworth House, National Trust
Critical commentary
The idyllic mood and nostalgia conveyed in this painting sought to celebrate Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, the patron, through the glory of the past, while emphasising the pastoral ideal (possibly at the expense of the true condition of the rural poor). The latter are less in evidence in the present version than in P165 with its prominent foreground figures. This and related landscapes belong to the tradition dating back to Virgil and Ovid, where shepherds lived in contented harmony and communion with nature. The very Welsh countryside was often seen as embodying the social ideals and modern liberties threatened in England.
Pennant 1784, vol. 1, pp. 297-98; Ron Radford, Hidden Treasures, exh. cat., Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia, 1989, pp. 39, 74; Tomory & Gaston 1989, pp. 52-53, no. 143, repr.; Ron Radford et al., Selected Works, Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia, 1991, p. 19; Kathleen Nicholson, Turner's Classical Landscapes: Myth and Meaning, New Jersey, 1990, p. 14; David Hansen, John Glover, Hobart/Sydney, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery and Art Exhibitions Australia, 2004, pp. 39, 74; Ron Radford, Island to Empire, 300 Years of British Art 1550-1850, exh. cat., Adelaide 2005, pp. 144-46; Jane Messenger, Making Nature: Masters of European Landscape Art, exh. cat., Adelaide 2009, pp. 124, 221, 251
Apparently the frame is original, although it seems more nineteenth-century rococo revival in style. The painting was conserved in 1990 by Artlab Australia, Adelaide.