Sandby's watercolor presents a view of the Eagle Tower of Caernarfon Castle across the River Seiont, with the peak of Snowdon, Wales's highest mountain, visible in the background. Sandy depicted this subject on numerous occasions, and the Morgan's watercolor is similar to a large scale gouache in the collection of the Southampton Art Gallery as well as several aquatints included in the artists album "XII Views in North Wales," published in 1776. In the Morgan watercolor, Sandby casts the landscape in a veil of clouds and moonlight, creating a lush sense of space and atmosphere using subtle tonal changes in the manner of the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Aert van der Neer (1603-1677) (Solkin 1972, p. 464). Sandby traveled through North Wales in the summer of 1771 with his patron Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, visiting Caernarfon Castle on the 29th and 30th of August. References to Sandby in the Wynnstay MSS at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, indicate that the tour took the form of a round journey through North Wales, traveling westwards from Wynnstay to the west coast at Barmouth and Harlech, then northwards to Canaerfon, Bangor, Beaumaris and Conway, then back across North Wales to Wynnstay. (Hughes 1972, pp. 459-460) Sandby treated the excursion as a sketching tour, and for thirty years he produced exhibition pieces based on the sketches made while accompanying Williams-Wynn. Works cited: Peter Hughes, "Paul Sandby and Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn," in The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 114, No. 832 (July 1972): pp. 459-467; David H. Solkin, "A 'Caernarvon Castle by Night' by Joseph Wright of Derby," The Burlington Magazine, vol. 119, no. 889 (April 1977): pp. 284-287.
McCrindle, Joseph F., former owner.