Girtin’s contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) travelled to North Wales in the same year and he sketched much the same view of the Glaslyn valley (see figure 1). According to Joseph Farington (1747–1821), writing in 1798, Turner travelled to ‘South & North Wales this Summer’, and he told the diarist that he was ‘alone and on Horseback – out 7 weeks’. Given that the artist was not reported to be back in London until late September, it is clear that although he sketched many of the same subjects as Girtin, they did so independently, with Turner’s visit to Beddgelert taking place a month or so later. The weather, Turner stated, included ‘much rain’, but this was ‘better for effects’, as Girtin’s sketch attests (Farington, Diary, 26 September 1798). Perhaps with Girtin’s subsequent 1799 exhibition watercolour in mind, Turner produced a larger on-the-spot colour sketch from much the same viewpoint on his return to North Wales the next summer (see figure 2). And Girtin himself produced a smaller colour study showing the same view of Dinas Emrys from closer to (TG1324). This is in Girtin’s Book of Drawings with the identification ‘Bedgellert’ written on the opposite page, but whether it was also sketched on the spot is difficult to ascertain, though I now suspect that it is a later studio work.
On a technical note, the paper historian Peter Bower has identified the support used by Girtin as a buff-grey laid wrapping paper, made by an unknown English manufacturer (Smith, 2002b, p.152; Bower, Report). The same low-grade wrapping paper, made from a mix of white linen, hemp rope and some blue fibres, was employed for another on-the-spot sketch, showing the nearby view of Mynydd Mawr (TG1327).
A Mountain View, near Beddgelert
1798 - 1799
The Ogwen Falls
The Ogwen Falls
1800 - 1801
The Valley of the Glaslyn, near Beddgelert
Pont Seiont, Looking towards Mynydd Mawr (Big Mountain)
About this Work