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National Museum Wales Purchases Painting by William Dyce for the Nation
William Dyce, Welsh Landscape with Two Women Knitting, 1860. Photo: Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

CARDIFF.- Today, the National Museum Wales announces it is able to save for the nation a painting by William Dyce entitled Welsh Landscape with Two Women Knitting, 1860, thanks to crucial funding grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), membership charity the Art Fund and others.

Thanks to the generous support of the NHMF and the Art Fund, who each awarded a grant of £166,000, one major private donor, a number of significant gifts and nearly 150 other individual donors, Amgueddfa Cymru has now acquired the painting for £557,218.

Welsh Landscape with Two Women Knitting from the collection of the late Sir David Scott (d.1986) was sold at Sotheby’s, London in November 2008. In November 2009 a temporary export bar was placed on the painting, providing an opportunity for a buyer to raise enough money to keep this important work in the United Kingdom. It has now been saved for the nation by Amgueddfa Cymru, which has had an interest in obtaining the work for some time.

A celebration of Welsh rural life, the painting depicts two women in folk costume into a tightly observed hillside in Snowdonia. William Dyce (1806 – 1864) was originally from Scotland and came to Wales for his health and a ‘change of air’ in 1860. He was immediately captivated by the area. This painting, based on sketched material from his excursion, was probably painted in the studio on his return to London.

The fine depiction of the North Wales landscape illustrates the popularity of the Conwy valley amongst Victorian painters, and can be compared with works by David Cox, Benjamin Leader and Henry Clarence Whaite. Welsh Landscape with Two Women Knitting is also a meditation on the transitory nature of human life and on the passage of time.

The Dyce painting is the only known Welsh subject picture by an artist who absorbed many key Pre-Raphaelite principles. It will now form a part of Wales’ national art collection, which is currently being re-displayed at National Museum Cardiff. Initially, it will be a pivotal element in the Museum’s new Victorian Art display which includes neo-classical sculptures by John Gibson, romantic works by Turner, Landseer and Etty, a fine group of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, works by Burne-Jones and others associated with the Aesthetic movement, as well as genre paintings including William Powell Frith’s Tenby Prawnseller.

Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said: “We have hoped for many years that this very beautiful work by Dyce would one day come home to Wales. We are delighted that this has now been achieved and are deeply grateful to NHMF and the Art Fund for their support. Indeed, the exceptional number of individual donors who’ve backed this campaign demonstrates the interest and importance of this work.”

Dan Clayton-Jones, Chair of the Welsh Committee and Trust of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, commented: “We’re delighted this painting which so vividly captures the essence of the Conwy Valley will now form a part of Wales’ national art collection. This grant continues NHMF’s support for the museum - now over £3.2million - which has enabled them to secure a range of Welsh treasures including the Wynnstay Organ, William Hogarth’s The Jones Family and the Jackson Silver. This historically precious painting will now join the diverse range of the UK’s most important heritage safeguarded by the NHMF over the last 30 years.”

Over the last ten years, the Art Fund has given over £1.2m to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales to help them acquire work by celebrated artists including Sir Joshua Reynolds, Alfred Sisley and Pablo Picasso, as well as internationally acclaimed contemporary artists Eija-Liisa Ahtila, James Turrell and Betty Woodman.

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