Daughters of a pioneering coal industrialist, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies were determined to use their inherited fortune to do good. Having both served in the French Red Cross during the First World War, they were deeply philanthropic, establishing Gregynog Hall in Montgomeryshire as a centre of artistic creativity. The sisters are best known for amassing the first major British collection of Impressionist art, which remains internationally renowned today with works regularly requested for major international exhibitions. Yet initially they collected British Art, favouring works on paper, and delighting particular in watercolours by Turner, of which this is one. Only later, with the help of their advisers Hugh Blaker and John Whitcombe, did they turn their attention to France, and the works by Daumier, Carrière, Monet and Rodin. Their collection, much of it now bequeathed to the National Museum of Wales, included five oil paintings by Turner.
It is interesting to compare the present watercolour to the sketchbook in the Turner Bequest no. LXII entitled ‘The Cows sketchbook’, which comprises a series of studies of cattle in both pencil and watercolour and which have been dated to circa 1799-1801.
We are grateful to Andrew Wilton for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.