c. 1848 Watercolour 12⅞ x 19½ in (32.7 x 49.5 cm)
Llandaff Cathedral, dedicated to Saints Peter, Paul, Dyfrig, Teilo and Euddogwy, is the mother church of the diocese of Llandaff, one of the six provinces of the Church in Wales. The interior is now decorated with Sir Jacob Epstein’s Christ in Majesty.
Peter de Wint was particularly struck by the romantic beauty of the landscape of Glamorgan when he first visited south Wales in 1824. Much later in life, in 1848, the year before his death, he exhibited a view of Llandaff at the OWCS (258) (Hammond Smith, Peter DeWint 1784-1849, 1982, p. 139). That picture, which was sold to John Vaughan, can be identified as our watercolour which bears the number 258 on the back. A colour study of Llandaff is noted in De Wint’s posthumous sale at Christie’s on 2 March 1876 (lot 71).
De Wint’s depiction of the tower and gothic ruins of Llandaff faithfully records these elements of the building as they stood in his lifetime. He has, though, placed a tree to obscure the rather incongruous classical temple built in the 1740s by John Wood of Bath within the ruined nave; he has also added substantial mountains suggestive of Wales, but not of the immediate vicinity of Llandaff Cathedral. A lithograph of Llandaff Cathedral, after a drawing by George Hawkins (1809-1852), was published by Day and Haghe in 1848: this shows the tower and contiguous arches just as De Wint has drawn them, but from an opposite viewpoint.
The romantic view of Llandaff that De Wint drew was shortly to disappear and news of the restoration of the Cathedral may have prompted him to exhibit this picture in 1848. Work on the building had begun under the direction of T.H. Wyatt in 1841. By 1845 John Prichard, described by John Newman as a ‘Puginian architect of unusual imagination’, was in charge of a major rebuilding programme that lasted on and off until 1861 (John Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Glamorgan, 1995, p. 241). This included the complete demolition of John Wood’s temple. The rebuilt gothic style cathedral was itself severely damaged by enemy action in 1941 leading to a final rebuilding by George Pace between 1949 and 1957.