These paintings are the only significant record of Margam House in Glamorgan.

Margam House was built by the Mansell family out of the domestic buildings of the dissolved Cistercian abbey of Margam during the 16th and 17th centuries, and completely demolished c.1787-1792. Both paintings appear to be in the same hand, possibly Thomas Smith, and are good examples of late 17th century Anglo-Netherlandish topographical painting. Though naïve, and with imperfect perspective, they are full of delightful incident and detail. In the north view, a great avenue leads the eye through the adjoining fields to the hamlet of Nottage and the Kenfig sand dunes lit by a patch of sunlight, with the Bristol Channel beyond. While a few landmarks remain, the scene has since been utterly transformed by the building of Port Talbot and its steelworks, and by the M4 Motorway which now separates the site of the house from the coast. The smaller south view sets the house in front of three wooded hills, Craig y Capel, Craig Cwm Maelwg, and Mynydd y Castell, manipulating their exact location and profile for effect.

Provenance

Commissioned by either Sir Edward Mansell or by Thomas, Lord Mansell; by descent to present owner.


National Museum Cardiff

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