Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Prospect of Wales

I'd heard of neither the artist Kenneth Rowntree nor Penguin's 'King Penguins' series of 76 titles until I found 'A Prospect of Wales' the other day.
A beautiful work of exceptional quality, the copy I have and its watercolour plates are in such excellent condition, I can't believe it was published, as Number 43 in the series, in 1948.
Much can be found out about Kenneth Rowntree over the internet, including an excellent 1997 obituary in 'The Independent'.
An artist with an acutely harmonious sense of colour, Kenneth Rowntree was born into a Quaker family in 1915, was a conscientious objector commissioned to work on the 'Recording Britain' project during WW2, and from 1959 to 1980, was Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University. With grateful acknowledgement to Penguin Books and to the estate of Kenneth Rowntree, below are some further images from the book: 


  1. Hello Faisal:
    How delightful all of this is. First, that you have discovered 'King Penguin' books which are, in our view, pure joy and something which we have been collecting in a rather vague and off hand way over a number of years. Secondly, that you should have acquired 'A Prospect of Wales' [which we do not have] with its absolutely charming watercolour drawings by Kenneth Rowntree. You will doubtless have already found out that the series includes subjects by many excellent writers and illustrators.

    You may also find of interest a not dissimilar series 'Britain in Picture' some titles of which are well worth collecting.

  2. love the child like quality of the illustrations

    our part of wales is a little greener!!!!

  3. I think I have heard of this artist but I didn't know his art and i love his appreciation of environment , natural and built. And like John says above, the child like quality of his art. As for King Penguins, I'm off to google to apply to be a Queen Penguin!

  4. Hello Jane and Lance,
    I've only another 75 'King Penguins' to look for! Thankyou for letting me know about the 'Britain in Pictures' series, which, something tells me, I've seen here and/or there.
    I was only discussing with a friend the other day how language has changed so much that books from not so long ago seem to be written in another language, taking the reader to a different, slower mindset to the rapidly hovering one we have today.

  5. such a special book to find! i like watercolour paintings and books about watecolour paintings! i have never heard of this artist so thank you for introducing him to me/us : )

  6. What a wonderful find. I am going to do a little research. I am drawn to watercolors... and Wales (my Dad is Welsh). I am a dabbler, but am more accomplished at appreciating other's work. Thanks for the introduction.

  7. A real find, Faisal. Beautiful illustrations.

  8. John, hi. You'd have an excellent eye for Welsh landscape. You're right, Kenneth Rowntree's highly skilled work has nonetheless an apparent child-like simplicity and naivety.

    Yes! Go, Catmint! I wonder what 'Queen Penguins' will publish?

    Hi, Demie. There's always so much more that you don't know than you do! I especially like the peace and harmony of these paintings.

    Hello, Bonnie. I'm glad you might be able to discern more of your background. Myself, of all skills I wish I had, it would be to paint well.

    Hello, James. Finding this really touched me, more than most books I come across - I think, for the quiet integrity of every part of the production.

  9. What a delightful find Faisal! I’m particularly drawn to the plate of Mrs Siddons' birthplace.

  10. KR saw beauty in both landscapes and built environments Bertie. I find it hard to pick a favourite...there are certainly none I don't like.

  11. They're great little books, Faisal. I have a dozen or so and bid on them on ebay when I remember.

    Don't know this one though.

  12. I want to find more, Dave. So beautifully put together - you just don't see that in books any more, really. I'd almost post it to you...