A Charming c.1860 Welsh Naive School Oil on Slate of a Village Scene

Origin: Welsh
Period: Mid-Victorian
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-80
Width: 25 inches
Height: 18 inches

The mid-Victorian Welsh provincial painting on thick slate, depicting a village with a long house and a church with figures, to include a mother in a red bonnet with a child, a gentleman in a top hat and a large cow, all painted in the naïve style.

The painting is in unrestored condition; there are several areas of loss to the painted surface, which would have been glazed. It is very decorative and indeed, we feel it has a real charm about it. The bottom edge of the picture shows the most amount of losses. The figures and places of interest are all visible and the scene would probably be much unchanged today. There is a hole drilled and pegged to each flank to facilitate the use of hooks so the picture can be wall hung.

The slate industry in Wales began during the Roman period when slate was used to roof the fort at Segontium, now Caernarfon. The slate industry grew slowly until the early 18th century, then expanded rapidly until the late 19th century, at which time the most important slate producing areas were in northwest Wales, including the Penrhyn Quarry near Bethesda, the Dinorwic Quarry near Llanberis, the Nantlle Valley quarries, and Blaenau Ffestiniog, where the slate was mined rather than quarried. Penrhyn and Dinorwig were the two largest slate quarries in the world, and the Oakeley mine at Blaenau Ffestiniog was the largest slate mine in the world. Slate is mainly used for roofing, but is also produced as thicker slab for a variety of uses including flooring, worktops and headstones, though much more rarely as canvases, especially as thick as this example.

The provincial execution of the painting is hugely charming, the textures to the paintwork are varied and the trees particularly are well rendered and with a super texture. This work was clearly carried out by a member of the village who was not a trained artist. We can’t find another example of primitive or naïve painting like this executed on slate having recently been sold.

Folksy, authentic and honest primitive art with a refreshing raw tone.