During the nineteenth century large-scale industrialization fundamentally changed the sociology, politics and arts of Wales. This study analyses the response of visual artists to industrialization from its beginnings in the seventeenth century to its decline in the mid-twentieth century, and also examines the patronage of those who shaped the new world. The industrial landscape, the common people and the leaders of industrial society all came under the scrutiny of painters, sculptors, photographers and film-makers. Their responses were varied – romantics were excited by the drama of the industrial scene, moralists were anxious to expose the human drama they discerned, and artists from inside the industrial world were eager to express the experience for themselves and to inform the response of others.
‘. . . reveals a palpable visual heritage which has been neglected and dishonoured till now . . . The book is detached and unprejudiced. Lavishly illustrated, it is sturdy enough to withstand frequent reference. To say that such a history is necessarily limited is not to find fault with it. The volume should serve as a catalyst for making further investigations at a local level. The more readers find that significant elements have been overlooked, the more successful the work will be.’ (Planet)
‘Peter Lord has just written the first volume in his magnum opus, a huge and lavish trilogy about the visual culture of Wales . . . Opening the pages of Lord’s book is like letting in the sunshine . . . because it represents such a dazzling new interpretation of Welshness.’ (Jan Morris, Independent on Sunday)
‘. . . the visual arts have added a massive amount to the development of Welsh culture. And they have played a decisive part in the way others perceive us. The proof comes in this magnificent new book by the influential art historian and critic Peter Lord. His authoritative narrative takes us from the beginnings of industrial development in Wales, through the full flowering of steel production and coal mining to the present post-industrial decline of the mining and quarrying towns of North and South Wales. The prose is packed with scholarship, with perceptive judgements, with potted biographies and scores of painters and their patrons . . . The book is a lesson in the history of modern Wales as well as providing a valuable course in art appreciation. But its real joy for me is the abundance and quality of its illustrations . . . Mr Lord’s treatment of modern artists is as revealing and as authoritative as his descriptions of their predecessors. This is the first of a series of three volumes. I cannot wait for its companions.’ (Western Mail)