Benjamin Williams Leader RA

Study Of Conway Bay And The Carnarvonshire Coast

Benjamin Williams Leader RA

Study Of Conway Bay And The Carnarvonshire Coast

This late 19th-century study by renowned British artist Benjamin Williams Leader (1831-1923) depicts a coastal view at Conway, Wales.

The dunes at Conway, peppered with wind-swept foliage, rise and fall before a distant haze of undulant peaks. While the brighter sands, revealed by the retreating sea, are conspicuous in their splendour. A clutch of figures rests as another returns with a fishing rod.

Several years ago, I visited an exhibition at Worcester Art Museum during which I was overwhelmed by the extraordinary ability of this remarkable artist. His father, a friend of John Constable, taught the young lad to paint directly from nature, with much the same zest for truth. This early interest in naturalism resulted in an advanced understanding of light, weather, and colouring, which underpinned Leader’s eminent career.

His larger finished works are akin to standing within nature itself. Abundant with interest and deftly rendered foliage. He could capture the very essence of the natural world. A country track with deep furrows shimmering amid pools of recent rainwater. Or the various cloud formations as they pass across a spindly coppice by a river. So needless to say, we’re excited to offer this coastal study with its careful observation and spirited brushwork.

As a study, it provides insight into his thought process as he considers the most vital parts of the composition. Note how he’s divided the view into distinct colours - with the sea a simple gradient of blue. While the breakers are mere flashes of white yet convey a rich sense of movement.

Leader enjoyed this coast and painted it on several occasions. In 1892, he exhibited ‘Conway Bay and the Carnarvonshire Coast’ at the Royal Academy, which was captured from the same vantage point. He produced another study in 1888.

Signed/dated in the lower left and held within a splendid later frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 36” x 23” / 92cm x 58cm
Year of creation: 1895
Labels & Inscriptions: Supplier’s mark on reverse, which corresponds to the canvases Leader used at this point in his career. Label with the artist’s details. Auction stencil.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Old restorations. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £145,000

Benjamin Williams Leader

Benjamin Williams Leader

Benjamin Williams Leader trained at Royal Academy Schools. He exhibited extensively including at the Royal Academy for 68 consecutive years. He’s represented at the V&A, Tate Gallery in London, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and the Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum, which holds a particularly large collection.

Learn more about Benjamin Williams Leader in our directory.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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