Margam House panoramas bought for Wales
- National Museum Cardiff
- 17 October 2012
Two paintings capturing a unique view of 18th-century Glamorgan have been bought for Amgueddfa Cymru with help from the Art Fund.
Margam House was one of Wales's great Tudor homes. It was built for the Mansel dynasty, Glamorgan's most important gentry family, and the estate's grand architecture and baroque gardens dominated the surrounding landscape.
The house was demolished in the late 18th century following a change of owner – and of tastes – to make way for the magnificent Neoclassical orangery that currently occupies the site. Today, the landscape that once homed the Mansels is changed beyond recognition, transformed by the M4 motorway and neighbouring Port Talbot's steelworks.
The two paintings bought by Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) are both the first early 'estate' paintings to enter the museum's collection, and the only visual records of the once-proud house and its surrounding landscape as it existed at the time. They were created by an unidentified artist, although there is some evidence to suggest they may be the work of Thomas Smith, a little-known English painter who worked in the Dutch style.
The paintings were bought for a total cost of £218,599, with a contribution of £75,000 from the Art Fund. They will join a double portrait of the house's builder, Sir Thomas Mansel, with his wife Jane, which is also on display at the museum.