The Priory of Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire

The Priory of Beddgelert, Caernarfonshire

undated
John Warwick Smith
1749-1831
Watercolor and graphite on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper mounted on moderately thick, slighlty textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches (13.3 x 21 cm)

The Priory of Beddgelert depicts a typical scene on the Welsh itinerary. The men seem to be English tourists who are relaxing by the confluence of the rivers Colwyn and Glaslyn, dwarfed by the massive mountain in the background. Around 1800 a story, now famous, began to circulate that a mound in the village was the grave of Gelert, a faithful dog of Llewellyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd. On returning from hunting, Llewellyn discovered his child missing and Gelert covered in blood; he slayed the dog believing it had killed the child, only to discover the baby under its upturned cradle along with the body of a wolf, killed by Gelert in defending the child. This legend is now believed to have been invented by a local innkeeper in the late eighteenth century to increase tourism, and the village to have been named after an early saint.

B1975.4.723
Inscribed in brown ink, on the old mount (detached): "The Priory of Beddgelert, situated under Craigy Llan Mountains, | at the confluence of the Colwyn, & Glaslyn Rioulets. | Carnarvonshire." In graphite, verso, lower right: "J2376"
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection