Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Wales: Artists and Subjects 18 Is this seascape by Benjamin Williams Leader a view along Cardigan Bay?

Topic: Subject or sitter

Could this be a view south along Cardigan Bay from Towyn (Tywyn), Gwynedd, looking beyond the mouth of the river Mawddach at Barmouth?

No. 94 in the French Gallery's 1890/1891 Annual Winter Exhibition was 'On the Sands, Towyn'. The cluster of mountains at the left would be Cader Idris and its neighbours. Leader painted Cader Idris many times from its east.

Towyn had a railway station on the Cambrian line from 1863 and could have been reached easily from Birmingham and Paddington.

The collection has no further information on the location in this image and would be happy to receive suggestions on this.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The view was identified as Snowdonia from Newborough Warren, Anglesea. The location has been added as a subtitle.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Miles Cato,

The dunes look as much like those between Tywyn and Aberdyfi - in which case this would be the mouth of the Dyfi rather than the Mawddach. Cader would not be visible but I strongly suspect that the painter has arranged mountains to suit his composition rather than depicting directly from life.
Even if the dunes are actually those at Barmouth, Cader would not be visible from this vantage point looking south.

S. Elin Jones,

This painting has a twin in the Harris Museum in Preston, Lancashire.
It’s called ‘Cambria’s Coast’ dated 1889.

Although these painting are both dated two years apart It does seem evident that Leader has used the same source material i.e sketches for both. Some parts are identical some changed for aesthetic purposes. He has also used some artistic licence, with regards to immediate landscape and mountains.

I personally I see more of a similarity to the topography of the Barmouth area rather than Towyn
, but that is just through experience rather than any evidence.

Andrew Chamberlain,

Another possibility could be from Newborough Warren, looking south to Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula.

Brian Neale,

Some how I do not think that it is Cardigan Bay looks to wild to be cardigan bay as i remember it is a nicer bay than the one on the painting

Edward Stone,

An Art UK user has commented over email that this view resembles the coast off Sandy Bay Caravan Park in Towyn.

Paul Jarman,

Barmouth and the Cader Idris massif are north of Tywyn so it can't be a view south from Tywyn toward Cader. It does look like the Cader Idris massif though, but Barmouth has a ridge dropping down to the town and obscuring the view of Cader Idris from the coast north of Barmouth

David Billingsley,

As someone who has lived in west Wales and walked the Cambrian coast for the last 20 years I agree with the observation made by Andrew Chamberlain that the view in this painting is from Newborough Warren (at the south west corner of Anglesey). It is looking east and south east to Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula. Snowdon is visible between the two nearer peaks on the left. The lighting suggest late morning light and the representation of the view of this landscape is in my opinion an attempt at accuracy rather than invention.
David Billingsley

Modern photos of Snowdonia from Newborough Warren show the hills with almost identical profiles as those in the painting; the sand dunes and grasses are very similar too. Andrew C and David B appear to me to have identified the location correctly. Perhaps Martin could find such a view in Leader's exhibited oeuvre.

Andrew Chamberlain,

Coincidentally, this image was published on another forum a few days ago - it shows the present-day view of Snowdonia from the coast at Newborough Warren (credit to Mike G for the photo).

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Martin Hopkinson,

Ludlow Museum Resource Centre and Library owns a painting by John Wright Oakes of c. 1863-4 'Malltreath' [sic] was no 156 at the Royal Academy in 1864 - a view of the Lleyn peninsula painted from Maltraeth Bay not far from Newborough Common. [ it is in a proposed discussion awaiting a response]

Laurie McCallum,

Leader also did a painting titled Conway Bay and the Carnarvonshire Coast in 1892, exhibited at the Royal Academy 1892 and Chicago World's Fair 1893 and in the collection of George McCulloch 1848-1907. The two paintings appear to be at a similar location with the Sheffield painting further away from the hills than the 1892 painting.

This is one of the oldest discussions (three years) still open on Art Detective and since it includes the sea I recommend it closes. There is no compelling reason to change the title but the further information on Art UK should include that it is a view from Newborough Warren (on the south-west corner of Anglesey), looking south to Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula, as identified in 2018 by Andrew Chamberlain and David Billingsley based on local knowledge.

The collection may wish to identify the individual peaks from other comments supplied above.

I had supported this identification several years ago and am sorry that in the lack of any other comments I have not recommended closure sooner. I support Pieter's suggestion, perhaps adding 'Snowdonia from Newborogh Warren' as a subtitle.