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National Treasures

Canaletto's 'The Stonemason’s Yard'

At the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Until 7 September 2024

National Library of Wales

The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, is a library for Wales and the world, where you can view the nation's treasures.

From books to art, manuscripts to audio visual archives, you can discover the story of Wales, enjoy events and exhibitions, or register and browse the collections in the Reading Room. There's something for everyone.

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Canaletto, 'The Stonemason’s Yard'

The exhibition ‘Idyll and Industry’, brings Canaletto's painting The Stonemason’s Yard, back to Wales, the country it sought refuge in during the Second World War.

In 1938, with financial support from the British Museum, the Library excavated an outcrop of land close to the building and constructed a chamber — known locally as the 'cave' — in which to house treasures.

The National Gallery was also eager to have a safe haven for its paintings and were given a large area in the Library building for storage. Part of the National Gallery Collection remained in Aberystwyth for two years before being moved to slate quarry caverns in Manod, North Wales in September 1941 — including Canaletto’s ‘The Stonemason’s Yard’.

The exhibition also explores two of the themes in Canaletto’s painting – industrial and idyllic landscapes with a focus on Welsh topography and life. The National Library of Wales will present Welsh landscapes from the National Art Collection, including works by Turner, Kyffin Williams, Richard Wilson, Jonas Plosky, Valerie Ganz and Penry Williams.

The National Library of Wales has commissioned photographer Jon Pountney to run an outreach project investigating the slate mines, while Christine Mills will develop the themes of the exhibition through in-Library workshops.

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