In the eighteenth century Welsh artists found it hard to earn a living in what was a poor country with few patrons, though with a strong literary tradition. However, the growing appreciation of wild scenery from the mid-eighteenth century attracted artists to visit and stay in Wales. It was Welsh-born Richard Wilson who became arguably the first major British landscape painter, depicting both Welsh and Italian landscapes. By the end of the century, north Wales was firmly on the artists’ itinerary and the country’s literary heritage was also inspiring artists.

Wales continued to be a popular destination for landscape artists, but had no art schools of its own until the middle of the nineteenth century. The Cambrian Academy of Art, a northern based national exhibition society, was not founded until 1881. Wales produced many well known artists in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries such as Augustus and Gwen John, Ceri Richards and Kyffin Williams. An artists’ group was set up in the early twentieth century by Eric Gill and David Jones, and others more successfully after the Second World War, especially in South Wales. Graham Sutherland was notably much influenced by Welsh landscape.