Rex Whistler's mural at Plas Newydd
Plas Newydd is home to one of the largest and most well-known murals in the United Kingdom, painted by artist Rex Whistler. This ambitious and fantastical mural, over 17.5 metres long, was designed as an imaginary view from the windows of Plas Newydd House and Garden on Anglesey in Wales.
A student at the Slade School of Art
Rex Whistler created his first commissioned mural whilst still a student at the Slade School of Art in London. Once the mural was unveiled in the famous Tate Britain art gallery in 1927, he became very sought after. Whistler first visited Plas Newydd at Easter in 1936, and the commission was agreed that April.
Rex Whistler’s painting at Plas Newydd
Planning the mural
By July that same year, Rex created a smaller, detailed watercolour of the whole composition to plan out the mural. The commission is believed to have been the idea of Lady Marjorie, the wife of the 6th Marquess.
Rex Whistler was a master of complex compositions that could deceive the eye. This European fantasy landscape encourages us to think we are standing at the edge of the sea on a paved promenade looking onto a stone jetty. In the distance is a coastal town featuring Roman architecture, along with identifiable British buildings, all backed by the mountains of Snowdonia.
This playful scene was one of Whistler’s great masterpieces, and he even included a portrait of himself as a gardener with broom in hand.
A guest of the family
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.
The Whistler Dining Room 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 Strait water, nothing made it stand out, let alone be a talking point. The wall of the dining room was brought to life with the large painted scene which is 17.5 metres long.
A life tragically cut short
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 18 July 1944.
Today you can visit the Whistler mural as part of your visit to the house. The house is closed during the winter.
Plas Newydd has seen many changes, transformed from a Victorian 'party house' to the comfortable family home that you see today.
Explore the ancestral family home of the Marquess of Anglesey, view Rex Whistler's famous mural and learn about the building and conservation work to safeguard the house.
The café and kiosk offer a chance to stop for a hot drink and snack, light lunches and freshly baked cakes, whilst the shop has plenty of gifts and treats to try.
Discover the hidden corners of a garden full of delights during every season. Grade 1 listed, Plas Newydd has 40 acres of garden and 129 acres of woods and parkland to explore.