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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Gibbs

John "Warwick " Smith in Breconshire

Updated: May 28, 2018

John "Warwick" Smith was a professional artist (1749 - 1831) who made many visits to Wales and not only to the North, which was becoming a favourite source of picturesque views, but also to mid and south Wales. He traveled to Italy under the patronage of the George Greville , the second Earl of Warwick. This led to his adding Warwick to his name which gave it the same kind of ring as many other artists of the time who favoured a distinguishing middle name (Michael Angelo Rooker, Julius Caeser Ibbotson, Samuel Hieronymus Grimm...).

Ruins of Blaen Lleveny Castle at the source of the Lleveny River & which soon after forms Llangorse Pool : Seen on the road going towards Talgarth & branching from the Brecknock June 19th 1790

Warwick Smith always gives his watercolours descriptive titles and dates them clearly . There is a splendid collection of over 160 in the National Library of Wales, all digitised and all but one of the images shown on this page are from this collection.

The ruins of Tretower Castle seen on the road between the Bwlch & Crickhowel : The founder of this castle is unknown Juky 15th 1788

View of Crickhowel looking across the River Usk south of the Town. Behind Crickhowel in this view is the conical Hill called Craig Howel from which it has derived its name July 15th 1788

Anyone who knows Crickhowell will be surprised by the height of the tower of St Edmund's Church which Warwick Smith has somewhat exaggerated. The island shown in the river has long since gone. This picture is in the collection of the National Museum of Wales.

View taken under the ruins of Brecknock Castle looking to Brecknock Bridge : & to the course of the River Uske beyond it extending towards Crickhowel. Brecknockshire July 12 1788

The ruins of Brecknock Castle with those of Ely Tower on the keep with the church and part of the town of Brecknock from Castle Hill : This castle was built in the reign of William Rufus by Bernard de Newmarch who conquered the county of Brecknock - Ely Towers so called from Morton Bishop of Ely who was prisoner in it in the reign of Richard 3rd July 8th 1788

View of the River Honddy in its latter course near its old bridge in Brecknock : The cluster of old cottages - the small cascade formed by the Clamorous Honddy whose stream washes the foudations of the buildings on either side marks interesting scenery at this spot. Brecknockshire July 13 1788

On the right is the Priory Bridge on the Honddu with what appears to be reinforcing metal ribs under the arches. The structure in the left foreground was a mill and the crenelated building across the bridge is a chapel built as part of the Countess of Huntingdons Connexion

General distant view of the Brecknock Mountains as seen on the approach to Brecknock from the Hay : the outline of these mountains is fine - they are the loftiest in South Wales & are often called the Brecknock Alps. Brecknockshire Ju;y 14 1795

John Warwick Smith became one of the most famous landscape watercolourists of his time, becoming President of the Watercolour Society.

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