A Welsh River
Benjamin Williams Leader was an artist whose work defined and epitomised a distinctive Victorian approach to landscape painting. His faithfulness to his subject is apparent in his paintings, which lose symbolic imagery in favour of a naturalism espoused by many British artists.
He trained as an engineer before joining the Royal Academy schools where he changed his name from Benjamin Leader Williams to Benjamin Williams Leader. He became an ARA in 1883 and a full RA in 1893, as well as amassing numerous honours including a medal at the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893.
The setting of the work is the River Llugwy between the villages of Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig in North Wales. This area was a popular haunt for Leader and his contemporary landscape painters. North Wales was a favourite subject for Leader who visited every summer from the late 1850’s until 1889.
Merton collected several paintings by Leader, including one which was recently discovered not to be by him. A Welsh River was sold to the Russell Cotes in 1927 on the advice of George Knight who wrote to Quick saying that it ‘was considered the best price of the year’ at the 1907 RA exhibition.