Wales Travel

Rex Whistler

Rex Whistler was a British artist born in 1905. He had an amazing talent, but he died in the Second World War, at only 39. He was commissioned at the age of 23 to paint a mural at Tate Gallery restaurant, quite impressive I might add. He also painted a few murals.

The most renowned mural is the one at Plas Newydd, home to the Marquess of Anglesey. The mural he painted is 56 foot long. He and the daughter of the Marquess were close and he was in love with her. I first saw his mural a couple of years ago, when I went to visit Plas Newydd. At that time the copyright laws prevented me to take pictures, as it was less than 70 years after his death. I was keen to visit the stately home again and take pictures of the mural, so I can share them on my blog.

01 Rex Whistler Plas Newydd Anglesey

I looked through all my pictures and I chose 10 to share. There are many more stories about details he painted on the mural. If you get the chance to visit Plas Newydd, ask a member of the staff or volunteer, they will tell you his stories.

01 Rex Whistler
This is a self portrait. He included himself twice in the mural.

02 Rex Whistler
He also included many times Lady Caroline Paget, her name and images of her. She appears in the imagine above, in the background.

03 Rex Whistler
Trajan’s Column. I had to include it considering I’m Romanian and The column was built in 113 as a testament to Trajan’s win against Dacians. There were 2 wars, one in 101-102 and the second one in 105-106. Roman troops were based in Dacia, have integrated in the local communities, married and this lead to the born of the Romanian people.
There is a replica of the Trajan’s Column at V&A, if you are interested in seeing it without leaving the country.

04 Rex Whistler
Here are the food steps of Neptune, as he came on the shore for lunch and he left his trident and crown there. As we moved, it looked like the steps were moving too.

05 Rex Whistler
An interesting depiction of Windsor castle. The mural was painted around the time of the abdication in 1936, hence the hole in the wall.

06 Rex Whistler
At the base of the Windsor castle, Whistler painted a washing line to represent the “airing of dirty laundry in public”, as it was a big scandal at the time.

07 Rex Whistler
He painted a few ships in the mural and the Marquess wasn’t pleased, he thought there are too many. So he asked Whistler to paint something else. If you look carefully, the ship is still visible in the clouds. Whistler was annoyed by the request, so he painted a ruin and scaffolding. He told the Marquess that the scaffolding is there for him, if he wants to change something to the folly. He had a sense of humour.

08 Rex Whistler
On the gondola Whistler painted his picture again, as a singer this time. The gondola is white, not black, and the couple inside the gondola is the Marquess and his wife, on their honeymoon in Venice.

09 Rex Whistler
The trees represent him and Lady Caroline, they look entangled, but while his tree is green and full of love, her tree fades away.

10 Rex Whistler
The family had 3 dogs and all of them are painted here. A greedy one that is guarding his food, the second one that is depicted on the book. The third one is in the back. On the steps there is a cigarette, left by the painter there so he can have it when he comes back. On the first step there is a pair of glasses that Lady Caroline was always forgetting.

There are many more stories about this single painting. The amount of details he incorporated is amazing and the landscape looks like a real place, even though is a mix of British castles, Italian streets and so on. It’s a shame he lost his life as such an young age and in a war that took too many lives and destroyed too much.

3 Comment

  1. Great detail on the mural. Whistler was also an accomplished book illustrator – his illustrations to a Gulliver’s Travels are exquisite.

  2. I’m sure that the Chalet school moved to Plas Newydd at some point in the book series! The painting is so interesting! I love all the details and the way that ghost ship is still there!

  3. I went to Plas Newydd a number of years ago and spent ages gazing at this mural while my bored wife and kids went out and sat in the garden. Even so, I missed most of the detail you’ve got here. Thanks for sharing!

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