John Barrell, Edward Pugh of Ruthin 1763-1813: 'A Native Artist' (Cardiff, 2013)
Edward Pugh (1762-1813) was a Ruthin-born, Welsh-speaking artist and writer. He produced compelling landscape images of Denbighshire in particular and, more widely, of north Wales, Monmouthshire and London, and also wrote what is probably the best account of a tour in Wales. This book, the first to consider Pugh's work in detail, shows how his landscapes reveal a wealth of local knowledge, and the way in which they dramatize some issues of great importance to Wales in his time - the effects of the enclosure of common lands; the effects of the war with France on industry and the condition of the poor; the need to develop and modernize the Welsh economy; the power of the great landowners. Apart from Pugh's, almost all the pictures and tours we have of late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century north Wales were made by English artists and writers, none of which can tell us about life in north Wales with the same insight as Pugh.
'This volume on the work of Edward Pugh comes from the pen of an experienced and highly talented author. Since his first publication on the poetry of John Clare in 1972, John Barrell has shown readers and writers of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature that texts must not be read in generic isolation from the totality of the culture - social, political, economic, artistic, literary - which surrounds them. Now, his paricular gift for "reading" pictures comes to the fore in a book that adds visual art to the wide range of genres explored in the Wales and the French Revolution series.'
Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan, formerly Head of Manuscripts and Visual Images, National Library of Wales