The Landscapes of Edward Pugh

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

watercolour in grey tones of Carreg Carn March Arthur landscape with three figures talking and a woman with a laden donkey
Edward Pugh, Carreg Carn March Arthur, 1794. Watercolour painting

Speaker(s): Professor John Barrell FBA (Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, University of York)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Ernst Vegelin and Professor Caroline Arscott

Edward Pugh was a Welsh-speaking artist and writer who was born in Ruthin in Denbighshire in 1763 and died there fifty years later. Between about 1790 and 1807 he worked as a miniaturist, principally in London, and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy. His chief interest however was in making watercolour drawings en grisaille of views in North Wales to be reproduced in aquatint; but apart from a bound volume of such drawings made to illustrate his magnificent account of a tour of North Wales, Cambria Depicta, only one of these watercolours is known to have survived; if others do, they have been reattributed no doubt, along with many of his miniatures, to artists whose works command higher prices. In this talk I want to look at the prints based on a series of his watercolours and published in 1794 under the group title Six Views in Denbighshire. Like the English artists touring north Wales in the 1790s, Pugh was interested in marketable images of the picturesque, the sublime, and the beautiful. Unlike them, however, he knew and understood so well the places he represented that his landscapes cannot help registering also the local issues and conflicts in which Denbighshire was engaged at the beginning of the war with revolutionary France. These aquatints were published in London but marketed chiefly in North Wales, and they must have meant very different things in those different places. Regional and metropolitan at the same time, they perfectly display the hybrid character of Pugh’s art, of Pugh himself, as a London Welshman.

John Barrell has just finished writing a book on the Welsh artist and writer Edward Pugh, to be published by University of Wales Press in 2013. He has published widely on the literature, history and art of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Britain, focusing on language, landscape, law, empire, theories of society and progress, and the theory of painting. Most recently, with Tim Whelan of Georgia Southern University he has co-edited The Complete Writings of William Fox (Trent Editions, 2011), and is beginning to research a book on politics and the Royal Academy in the 1790s. Professor Barrell is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the English Association, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters of the University of Chicago, and an honorary D. Litt, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.

This lecture is the second in the Richard McDougall Lecture series which will be delivered biannually at The Courtauld Institute of Art on the topic of British watercolour painting post-1750.

Back to Events Calendar