During November and December there will be an opportunity to view an unique exhibition at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog. It will be unique because it showcases the earliest known portrait of a Welsh artist which was recently rediscovered in Massachusetts in the United States by renowned art historian Peter Lord. Edward Owen of Penrhos in Anglesey painted his own portrait when he was an apprentice painter in London in 1732 and it is now on show for all to see so why not make a family day out of it.
The exhibition includes over 40 examples of portraits, ship pictures and landscapes by both national and local artisans and can be viewed at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog (alongside the Christmas exhibition) from Saturday, 12th November until Christmas Eve.
Edward Owen is culturally important not only because of this painting; whilst he was in London he wrote letters to his family at home which describe his experience as an apprentice painter at the centre of the London art world in the 1720s. These letters give a rare and special insight into the city‘s art scene nearly 300 years ago.
The self portrait had been lost for over 80 years, and was last seen in public at the Holyhead National Eisteddfod in 1927. The rediscovery by Peter Lord of the Edward Owen self-portrait stimulated the idea of creating an exhibition at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw of portraits and other pictures made by Welsh artisan painters. Artisan painters were professional artists who found their patrons mainly among the rising middle class in Wales during the first half of the nineteenth century. Some like Hugh Hughes and William Roos worked all over the country, and among the Welsh communities of London and Liverpool. Others, like John Roberts of Llanystumdwy, worked locally and, in addition to portraits, painted pictures of ships, inscriptions in chapels and churches, and signs for shops and free houses/taverns.
Partly because families have been more settled in Llŷn than in other parts of Wales, a higher proportion of artisan work has survived. Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw hopes that the exhibition will help to bring yet more to light. During the exhibition, a great family day out, (Saturday 26th of November), Peter Lord and the gallery will invite everyone to bring in family portraits, pictures of ships and landscapes –whatever their condition – to be photographed and recorded, in order to build a better picture of the history of artisan painters in the area. In particular, the gallery hopes to identify many more pictures painted by the local artisan, John Roberts.
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