Paintings in the Institute, Caernarfon

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Link to Welsh translationPaintings in the Institute, Pavilion Hill, Caernarfon

Displayed on the walls inside the Institute Building are paintings collected by Royal Caernarfon Town Council over many years. The building is normally closed to the public but our selection of images below gives you a flavour of the artworks inside.

Click on any small image to view a larger version (which opens in a new window).

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The Awakening of Wales small image
The Awakening
of Wales

Some consider The Awakening of Wales (left) the most iconic painting in the history of Welsh art. It depicts Gwenllian, daughter of Owain Glyndŵr, being carried to freedom by a red dragon. Glyndŵr’s uprising at the start of the 15th century failed to wrest Wales from English rule, but this painting dates from 1911, a time of renewed confidence in Welsh identity. You can read more about this trend on our page about The Senedd, the trend’s ultimate product.

This painting is by Christopher Williams (1873 – 1934), who was born in Maesteg, near Bridgend. Many of his works are allegorical, and this one is loosely based on an ivory statuette in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Wirral, depicting Andromeda escaping a sea monster’s clutches. Local MP David Lloyd George, who became Prime Minister in 1916, commissioned him to paint the Welsh at Mametz, as explained here.

The Awakening of Wales small image
The 1911 Investiture

Another painting (left) by Christopher Williams, dating from 1914. It depicts the ceremony three years earlier which bestowed the title Prince of Wales on Edward, the future King Edward VIII. Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George can be recognised in the painting, which was given to the council by a member of the Lloyd George family.

Myfanwy small image

This painting (left) is by Thomas Leonard Hughes and depicts an imaginary medieval interior scene. It won first prize at the 1890 National Eisteddfod, held in Bangor. Myfanwy was an enigma of the Romantic age, best known today through Joseph Parry’s love song of that name. Much earlier, bard Hywel ab Eionion Lygliw (1330 - 70) wrote about a Myfanwy Fechan who lived in Castell Dinas Bran, Llangollen, and described her as “Myfanwy drist” (sad Myfanwy). She may be the Myfanwy who is depicted in an alabaster tomb chest in the church at Penmynydd, Anglesey.

John Morgan portrait small image
John Morgan

John Morgan (left) was Mayor of Caernarfon before and after the Reform Act of 1834 made the post an elected one. He was agent to the Earl of Uxbridge, whose son became the first Marquess of Anglesey. The name is marked locally by the name of Uxbridge Square. This painting depicts John Morgan holding a scroll bearing loyal greetings to Queen Victoria on her coronation.

Sir John Puleston portrait small image
Sir John Puleston

This portrait of Sir John Puleston (left) was painted in March 1906 by Prof Hubert Von Herkomer, who later became a pioneer of British film making. Sir John hailed from the Vale of Clwyd and became a Tory grandee, banker and freemason in London. The painting was presented to him by the City of London Conservative Association (which he had chaired for 16 years) and other Conservatives of the City of London.

He instigated the Welsh-language carol service in Westminster Abbey and was treasurer of the National Eisteddfod Association. He lived in the USA from 1856 to 1860, editing two newspapers and befriending President Abraham Lincoln. He became Constable of Caernarfon Castle but lost to David Lloyd George in his attempt to become the area’s MP in 1892. Previously he was MP for Devonport.

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