The Old Mill at Bettws-y-Coed (1857), by Thomas Creswick, RA (1811–69). 508 x 768 mm. Oil on canvas. Fylde Council Town Hall, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.

This middle period work (1857) is a typical example of Creswick's Welsh subjects which exploits stereotypical aspects of the Picturesque (babbling brooks, a watermill), but also offers a more personal, nuanced vision of the landscape and the atmosphere of place. The variety of the trees and the subtle palette of greens, blues and grey are effectively combined within a harmonious whole. The treatment is much looser than many of his works of the 1850s and seems to move away from the influence of Pre-Raphaelitism.

Bettws-y-Coed was a favourite destination for mid-Victorian landscape painters, and Creswick's painting exemplifies the way in which artists ransacked the local landscape in search of pleasing and picturesque subjects. The home of generations of artists, who visited during the more clement months of the year, Bettws is one of the most painted areas in Victorian art, but is no longer as well known as the many other regions (such as Cornwall, the locale for the Newlyn School), that supplied painters with motifs.

Image reproduced under the terms of Creative Commons. Text by Simon Cooke. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Created 21 March 2021