John Varley (1778-1842)
Harlech Castle, North Wales
Signed and dated l.r.: J. Varley/1823, watercolour over pencil with gum arabic and stopping out
20.7 x 27 cm: 8 1/4 x 10 3/4 inches
With Leger Galleries, London;
With Guy Peppiatt Fine Art;
Private collection UK until 2018
Harlech Castle had long been a popular subject for early watercolorists and it was one of Varley’s favourite picturesque subjects, of which he exhibited in 23 versions between 1802 and 1840. This is possibly his Old Water Colour Society exhibit of 1823, no 168 (entitled Harlech Castle).
Mount Snowdon and the Snowdon range can be clearly seen in the background, moved a little closer than they are in reality by the artist for compositional reasons (a convention he adopted in most of his views of Harlech). This delightful example has a Claudean balance to the composition which is typical of Varley’s mid-career style as is the blue and orange tonality.