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Drawings and Illustrations

of Welsh Castles

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Right: Harlech Castle by Henry Gastineau

s the Middle Ages drew to a close many of the castles of Wales were already in a state of advanced decay, due largely to their neglect and intentional destruction or "slighting" during the Civil War. Beginning primarily in the 18th century, however, these ruined monuments, long thought of simply as eyesores of a forgotten age, enjoyed something of a revival due in part to the appearance of both realistic and romantic paintings by a variety of artists. Samuel and Nathaniel Buck were chief among the realists, while men like Henry Gastineau and J.M.W. Turner were among the most accomplished "romantic" painters of the day.

The work of artists like Buck, Turner, and others, helped change public perception regarding these long forgotton relics of the Middle Ages. Rather than thinking of castles as ugly piles of ready-made quarry materials, people began to appreciate the cultural heritage these monuments represented. This new way of thinking was eventually embraced by the Victorians, one of the first groups to give voice to the idea of preserving these important pieces of Britain's past. The paintings then, can be seen as an important link in a chain of events that became the movement to save and restore Britain's historic treasures - including, of course, her castles.

Those of you who have read our article by Richard Williams on the importance of artists like Samuel and Nathaniel Buck already know that their work also helped to create an important visual record of castles as they appeared at the time, something that's proved to be a great help to modern-day historians.

Below you will find a collection of smaller or "thumbnail" photos that link to larger versions of drawings and paintings for several of the Castles of Wales. Simply click on the thumbnail to launch the full size representation. Each full size drawing in turn has a link to that castle's main page, where you'll find modern photographs along with an appropriate description and/or history of the castle. The drawings and paintings are interesting because they give us glimpses of certain castles before irreversible decay had set in (Llanvair), while others castles (Caerphilly) are shown as they existed before restoration efforts were begun, in their "natural state" of ruin, as it were. Not only are we given antiquary glimpses of the castles themselves, but also pre-modern views of the surrounding countryside, people, and, in some instances, towns and settlements. As always, we invite your comments.

(Special thanks go out to John Cotton for providing us with many of drawings and sketches below from his extensive collection. Diolch yn fawr, John!)

               

Beaumaris Castle

Dryslwyn Castle

Caldicot Castle

Conwy Castle

               

Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle

               

Criccieth Castle

Harlech Castle

Castell Dinas Bran

Carew Castle

               

Manorbier Castle

Kidwelly Castle

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle

               

Penhow Castle

Cas Troggy

Llansteffan Castle

Laugharne Castle

               

Cardiff Castle

Oystermouth Castle

Penrice Castle

Swansea Castle

               

Castell Coch

Brecon Castle

Tretower Castle

Haverfordwest Castle

               

Tenby Castle

Goodrich Castle

Newport Castle

Llanvair Castle

 

Essay about the Buck brothers castle drawings of the Castles of Wales

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Copyright 2009 by Jeffrey L. Thomas