Straw Work of The Menai Suspension and Tubular Bridges
A lovely example of a late 19thcentury primitive straw work and watercolour picture, showing the busy scene in the area of the Menai Suspension and Tubular (Britannia) Bridges, both of which cross the Menai Strait; a narrow stretch of shallow tidal water that separates the island of Anglesey from the mainland of North Wales. Inscribed in pencil along the bottom of the composition against the frame.
Described in charming detail are houses on the banks and one of the island dwellings in the Straits, numerous boats of various sizes and a steam passenger train crossing the Tubular Bridge where you can just see passengers on the platform. For added accuracy you can also see the four monumental limestone lions standing guard at each corner of Britannia Bridge.
The Britannia Bridge was originally designed and built by Robert Stephenson as a tubular bridge of wrought iron spans for carrying rail traffic. Following a fire in 1970 it was rebuilt. The Menai Suspension Bridge was built to carry road traffic, and was designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1826.
The picture is in remarkably good condition; the watercolour sky having retained its’ pale blue, and with very few losses to the very finely placed coloured pieces of straw. The straw work design is complimented, unusually, by strongly coloured greenery and trees on both sides of the Straits.
Similar straw work pictures are known, and they may have been made by patients at the Glan-y-don hospital in Colwyn Bay, as a form of occupational therapy.
A similar picture is illustrated in The Visual Culture of Wales: Industrial Society by Peter Lord, University of Wales press 1998 and in English Naive Painting 1750-1900, by James Ayres, Thames and Hudson, London and N.Y. 1981, and similar pictures are held in the collection of the Welsh National History Museum, St Fagans, Cardiff.
North Wales circa 1880
Under glass and framed.
Sight: 24" x 17.75” (61cm x 45cm)
Frame: 29.5” x 23” (75cm x 59cm)