Mount Snowdon through Clearing Clouds

This view of Mount Snowdon in the north of Wales shows the west flank of the mountain, looking towards the southeast. It is one of a number of Welsh landscapes made by A.W. Hunt based on color studies and detailed sketches made in situ in “… the land of damp - of fog and mist …” as Hunt described it in a letter of September 1857. While the treatment of the scene is ostensibly topographical, the real focus is on the prevailing meteorological conditions, as the mist dissolves and sunshine floods through scattering rain clouds, creating startlingly mobile effects of light and shadow. To capture these effects, the artist used the techniques of blotting, scumbling, rubbing, and scratching out, as well as additional media such as gouache and gum arabic. In his ability to work the paper to render atmospheric phenomena, Hunt took over where J.M.W. Turner, who died in 1851, had left off. In fact, the critic F. G. Stephens writing in 1884 called him “the legitimate successor of Turner.” As became typical in the then-emerging genre of Pre-Raphaelite landscape, following Turner’s lead, the work also combines in the same composition the loose handling of atmospheric effects with an extremely detailed rendering of plants and stones in the foreground.

Watercolor (1857)

by Alfred William Hunt (British, 1830-1896)

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