This work, purchased for the Collection in 1960 as ‘A View from the Menai Straits’, includes a distant view of Penrhyn Castle, just seen on the far bank of the Straits, between the trees. Very few works by the prolific marine artist John Wilson Carmichael show Welsh scenes. Other examples include ‘Old Holyhead Harbour, Island of Anglesey’ (1858), sold through Christie’s in 1969; ‘Shipping off Holyhead Harbour, Anglesey’ (1858, possibly the same work) sold through Christie’s in 2009; and ‘Penrhyn Castle’ (c.1860; National Library of Wales).
John Wilson Carmichael was born in Newcastle upon Tyne; the son of a shipwright. He spent his early teenage years at sea, before being apprenticed to a firm of Newcastle shipbuilders. From 1825 he showed paintings at the Northumberland Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts and its successors. Sets of engravings, based on his works, were published in 1828-30, 1832 and 1836-38. He exhibited in London at the Royal Academy, Society of British Artists and British Institution and moved to London in 1846, settling in Bloomsbury. From May to August 1855 he worked for the ‘Illustrated London News’. Windsor and Newton commissioned two artist’s handbooks from him (published 1859, 1865). He moved to Scarborough in 1865, where he died aged 68.
With Omell Galleries; by whom sold through Christie's, London, 'English Pictures and Drawings' sale, on 18 November 1960 (Lot 179), as ‘A View from the Menai Straits’; from which sale purchased by Richard Walker on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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