Wales had little to offer aspiring young artists in the eighteenth century. There were no art schools, no exhibition spaces and very few patrons.
London, by contrast, was teeming with opportunities. The city attracted several well-educated Welshmen determined to pursue a career in painting.
This gallery introduces the work of a group of eighteenth-century Welsh artists who trained and worked in London and Italy, but did not completely isolate themselves from their homeland. They engaged with the cultural life of Wales either in their personal or professional lives, often with the patriotic support of a few Welsh patrons.
This was a time of growing excitement about Wales, sparked off by the discovery that the Welsh were descendants of the ancient Celts.
British intellectuals became enraptured by the Welsh language, literature and druidic past, and attempts were made to cultivate a separate identity for Wales.
There was a revival of the Eisteddfod, and groups like The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion were formed to preserve this notion of cultural difference.
In the spirit of this Celtic Revival, there was a growing concern with the expression of national identity through music, literature and the visual arts. Some of the images created at this time later became nationalistic icons, like The Bard by Thomas Jones.
National Museum Cardiff