Snowdon from near Porthmadog by Henry Clarence Whaite, c.1870

Henry Clarence Whaite, 1828-1912, was a remarkable landscape painter originally from Manchester. His father owned an art gallery and picture framing business and Whaite trained at the Manchester School of Design and the Royal Academy, London. He visited Switzerland in 1850, and was inspired by the mountain scenery. He had visited Wales in his early 20s, but came to Betws-y-coed in 1851 which marked the start of his close affinity with the country.

Betws-y-coed is considered to be Britain’s first artists’ colony and had attracted artists such as Paul Sandby and J.M.W. Turner since the late 18th century. Painter David Cox spent his summers there from 1844, and this encouraged other painters to visit the area. The village became a popular destination for several artists including Whaite, Thomas Collier, Lawrence Coppard and George Harrison. The construction of the railway in the 1860s brought more artists and tourists and as Betws-y-Coed became busier, artists began to migrate along the Conwy Valley. This led Whaite to find quieter locations in and around Trefriw where he was based when visiting throughout the 1860s.

Whaite moved to Tyddyn Cynal near Conwy in 1870 and married a local woman Jane Alice Griffiths. A member of the Royal Watercolour Society, he exhibited at the Royal Academy, and became President of both the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art and the Manchester Academy. He played a crucial role in the development of a Welsh art world and was for many years an Eisteddfod adjudicator.

Whaite’s paintings are centered around landscapes and show the effects of nature or the daily lilef of the rural community yn the Conwy Valley. He displayed a vibrant style in his watercolours, and was noted for his ability to capture changing weather conditions.

This watercolour is a gift from the Friends of Storiel.