The Paintings of Ivor John Powell

The vision of a border Welshman

Chirk Castle by Ivor Powell

33. Chirk Castle

24.8 x 34.5cm. Canvas with new frame

NLW(PG 5875)

Ivor made a visit to the castle in the early 1970s and, as was his usual practice, he would have painted this picture in response to it. He probably relied on a photograph to record the details of the building's architectural history. There is much about this view which would have appealed to him. Not only is the castle structurally involved and interesting but the carefully tended grounds (especially the famously manicured hedges) would have impressed the gardener in him. His treatment of his subject shows that this is a development of the manner of Feeding Swans on a Lake. The figures and the dogs (so far from them that a further informal group is implied in the foreground) make this an image of a world in which landscape and people are in harmony. As a National Trust property, the castle is shown as a democratised version of the private estates he knew in his youth, in which a refined environment can be enjoyed by all. It was, for him, the best of both worlds. As in each of his compositions, he met the challenges of his subject in unique ways, and gave viewers much to occupy them. His colourful figures and carefully moulded bushes, in the centre ground, play off against the dogs, on their expanse of lawn in the foreground, and the castle in the background, and the sky, not to be left out of his harmonies, has some of the tones of the building in its clouds.

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