A Welsh River

A Welsh River, 1907
Benjamin Williams Leader (1832-1923)
Oil on Canvas
BORGM 01286
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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A Welsh River

Benjamin Williams Leader was an artist whose work defined and epitomised a distinctive Victorian approach to landscape painting. Leader’s father was a keen amateur artist and friend of John Constable, and Benjamin would often accompany him on sketching trips along the banks of the River Severn. In 1857, Benjamin changed his name to Benjamin Williams Leader to distinguish himself from the many other painters with the surname Williams.

The setting of this 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. Merton collected several paintings by Leader, though one was recently discovered to be misattributed. A Welsh River was sold to the Museum in 1927 on the advice of George Knight who wrote to the first curator, Richard Quick, saying that it ‘was considered the best picture (landscape) of the year’ at the 1907 Royal Academy (RA) exhibition.

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