A talented young artist at Plas Newydd
Rex Whistler’s magnificent masterpiece at Plas Newydd tells the story of the unrequited love of a contractor and the Marquess’s daughter, woven into the colossal canvas. The painting's imagined setting of mountains, harbours, towns and people gives you an insight into a bygone era and the life of family and friends at Plas Newydd.
The Whistler room at Plas Newydd was once a functioning dining room - in fact, it was once a series of smaller rooms that were knocked through to make one larger room. Other than a great view across the Menai, nothing made it stand out, let alone be a talking point. That was all about to change. With the help of a young, hard-working artist named Rex Whistler, the wall of the dining room was brought to life.
Rex Whistler created his first commissioned mural whilst still a student at the Slade School of Art. Once the mural was unveiled in the Tate Britain in 1927, he became sought after. Whistler first visited Plas Newydd at Easter in 1936, and the commission was agreed that April.
By July that same year, Rex has already created a smaller, detailed watercolour of the whole composition. The 58-mural is believed to have originally been the idea of Lady Marjorie, the wife of the 6th Marquess, but the scenery and details therein were entirely Whistler’s fantastical imagination and playfulness. As well as a commissioned artist during his time at Plas Newydd, he was also a much-welcomed guest of the 6th Marquess’s family, attending parties and staying at the house.
Rex Whistler always intended to return to Plas Newydd after the Second World War to complete some of the unfinished details of the mural. Tragically, he was killed on his first day of active duty in France on the 18 July 1944.
Today you can visit the Whistler mural as part of your visit to the house and to the Behind the Stage experience.