Ceunant Cynfal, Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, Wales
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Watercolour over pencil. This is a fascinating view taken at Coalbrookdale in the Severn Valley which was one of the key centres of industrial activity in the early nineteenth century. Iron was produced on an enormous scale in a three mile area of the Severn valley between Coalbrookdale and Coalport, and the area attracted large numbers of visitors including engineers, tourists and artists. One such visitor was the Frenchman Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg (1740-1812) who painted his famous 'Coalbrookdale by Night' (Science Museum) in 1801. The dramatist and musician Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) wrote after his visit to the area:
".. if an atheist who never heard of Coalbrookdale, could be transported there in a dream, and left to awake at the mouth of one of those furnaces, surrounded on all sides by such a number of infernal objects, though he had been all his life the most profligate unbeliever that ever added blasphemy to incredulity, he would infallibly tremble at the last judgement that in imagination would appear to him."
This drawing dates from Munn's tour of NorthWales in the summer of 1802 in the company of John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) who was his tenant at the time in his Bond Street property. They left London in early July, reached Bridgnorth on the 8th continuing to Wenlock where both artists drew the priory. They went on to Broseley and then Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale. Cotman's version of the same subject titled `The Brick Kiln' is in Leeds City Art Gallery. Munn's 'Bedlam Furnace, Madeley Dale' was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 and is now in the Tate Gallery. A view of the same coal shaft on Lincoln Hill by Munn, dated July 1802, but seen from the other side, was with Guy Peppiatt Fine Art in 2007 (see 18th and 19th Century Drawings and Watercolours 2007, no. 36).