STADLER, Joseph Constantine (1780-1812) after John "Warwick" Smith [1749-1831]
[Pl. 1] London: Published by White and Co., 1810. Hand-coloured aquatint engraving. Good condition apart from some overall light soiling, a few mild surface abrasions in the margins, and several small tears and minor losses at the edges of the sheet. Light water stain in the lower left corner. Sheet size: 17 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches. Plate mark: 15 5/8 x 21 5/8 inches.
A picturesque view of Hafod House from "Tour to Hafod", a fine collection of plates depicting the mansion and its surrounding landscape engraved by Stadler after drawings by Smith.
Comprised of 15 views, Tour to Hafod also included comprehensive descriptive text by the scientist and collector James Edward Smith. The work was most likely intended as a tribute to the social benefactor and literary man Thomas Johnes (1748-1816), who devoted much of his life to his home region of Cardiganshire, where he served as a lord-lieutenant, a colonel in the militia, and an MP for the borough of Cardigan. Located in Cardiganshire, Western Wales, Hafodychtryd or Hafod for short, was Johnes's country estate. Hafod House, his principal residence, was erected in 1785 in the "gothic" style of Thomas Baldwin of Bath. Smith describes it as being "situated on a rising ground, in a rich and beautiful valley, watered by the river Ystwith, and encompassed with bold hills, richly wooded, or a great variety of forms. These woods abound with magnificent water-falls, formed chiefly by three mountain streams that empty themselves into the Ystwith in different parts of the valley, and are never dry." Upon settling there, Johnes set about ameliorating the conditions of the local poor by providing them with comfortable housing and employing them in a planting project that would beautify the neighboring areas. In addition to his concern for social welfare, he was extremely interested in improving parts of Cardiganshire and actively involved himself in the building of roads and bridges. Born in Irthington in 1749, John "Warwick" Smith was an accomplished topographical draughtsman and watercolourist, who enjoyed the generous patronage of the Earl of Warwick. In addition to his fine engravings of Italy, he contributed numerous illustrations to topographical publications such as Select Views in Great Britain (1812), Views of the Lakes of Cumberland (1791-5), Tour through Wales (1794), and A Tour to Hafod (1810). In 1805, Smith became a member of the Watercolour Society, where he frequently exhibited his works.
Cf. Abbey, Scenery of Great Britain and Ireland 533; cf. Dictionary of National Biography.