WILSON, Richard (1714 - 1782)
Media: oil on canvas
Size: 63.5 x 125.1 cm
Acquired: 1913; Purchase
Accession Number: NMW A 73
Children play in front of the crumbling ruins of Caernarfon Castle, a symbol of English oppression; Caernarfon Castle, the birthplace of the first Prince of Wales, was built by Edward I. Wilson painted several views of it which vary in topographical accuracy. At that time Caernarfon was a bustling port town, but Wilson has manipulated the landscape to portray it as harmonious and idyllic.
The picture glows with a soft Italianate light, uncharacteristic of Wales. Wilson often painted his native landscape with a mind full of his memories of Italy, inspired by the work of continental artists like Claude and Cuyp. The golden light recalls that of the Roman campagna. As in his views of Ancient Roman ruins, the theme is the transience of human achievement.
Wilson’s Welsh views are among his most important works. His master Thomas Wright once claimed that Wilson was ’partial to his native country’. Some have claimed that national pride inspired him to paint his homeland, while others argue he simply found in Wales a subject matter that suited his ambitions as a landscape painter.