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17 February 2014
Art and Paintings

AUCTIONEER STEAMED-UP OVER

WARREN WILLIAMS PAINTINGS

 

Works sent from Canada to Rogers Jones Co

Welsh Sale are unlike any seen previously

Colwyn Bay auctioneer David Rogers has been selling paintings by the popular Welsh artist Warren Williams for more than 50 years, but two landscapes sent to North Wales from Canada by their owner for the auctioneer’s Welsh Sale next month each include a unique feature: a Welsh Highland Railway steam train.

“I was astonished when I saw the two watercolours,” David Rogers Jones said. “I’ve lost count of the number of paintings by Williams I’ve auctioned over the years – the figure must run to many hundreds – but in all that time, these are the first I’ve seen in which the artist has ever included a train.

“He was a very prolific artist with a good style and particularly adept at perspective, the play of light on water and capturing the grandeur of his surroundings in a painting. Apart from the occasional figure in his pictures – he painted fishermen in Breton at one point in his career – it’s usually only sheep that appear with any regularity.

“Although it is only speculation, it could be that he was commissioned to paint the two landscapes by the directors of the Welsh Highland Railway. Interestingly, the railway recently reopened the final section of the link between Caernarfon and Porthmadog, so passengers will travel past the places featured in the paintings.”

They are each estimated at £500-600 in the Welsh Sale, to be held on Saturday March 1. One shows the steam train pulling five carriages over the River Glaslyn on the Cnicht and Croesor Bridge. The other shows a train passing the falls near Llyn Cwellyn. Each is in its original frame and mount and measures 11 by 17 inches.

They belonged originally to Mr Theodore (Ted) Vernon who was born in Winnipeg but had cousins in Cheltenham. He served in the UK as an engineer with the Royal Canadian Air Force 409 Squadron and worked for many years in the Canadian Post Office. It is believed he purchased the paintings when he visited relatives in England.

Hugh Warren Williams (1863-1941) was born in Holyhead and educated in Liverpool. He showed an early interest in art, studying at Liverpool Art School under the supervision of John Finnie. His aptitude for landscape and seascape painting enabled him to find work as a staff artist with Dennis Limited, colour printers, of Scarborough and London, for whom he produced 600 pictures and drawings. The resultant prints were popular throughout Britain.

Williams returned to Wales in 1898 to live in Conwy, and began to paint prolifically in the Snowdonia and Conwy valleys and the Anglesey coastline, while other pictures were done in the Norwegian fjords and Brittany.

He was also asked to produce works for posters advertising Wales and was commissioned to produce miniature paintings of Welsh scenes for the Queen’s Doll’s House at Windsor. The South African Government purchased some of his works for exhibition in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

David Rogers Jones recalled that his grandfather, who was a chemist in Conwy, was paid for spectacles by Williams with a handful of sketches, while his father, who was a chemist in Llandudno Junction, remembered Williams painting for visitors on the quay in Conwy. He would sell a picture for a few shillings and then retire to the nearby pub.

By the 1930s, Williams had moved to live in Dwygyfylchi, between Penmaenmawr and Conwy and died there on September 1, 1941.

Printed catalogues for the Welsh Sale will be available shortly, but can be seen on-line atwww.the-saleroom.com. For more information, please contacy the auctioneer on 01492 532176 or info@rogersjone.co.uk/




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