Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, by William Widgery (1822-1893). c. 1860. Oil on canvas. H 99.1 x W 159 cm. Collection: Victoria Art Gallery, Bath. Accession no. BATVG: P: 1922.7, purchased in 1922.

The Cheddar Gorge in the Mendips, in the south-western county of Somerset, offers some of the country's most dramatic scenery, along with a unique variety of natural life and a terrific sense of the ancient past. "Cheddar Man," our oldest known human ancestor, had yet to be found in the subterranean caves there in Widgery's lifetime, but would be found soon afterwards, in 1903. Artists, including J.M.W. Turner, were inevitably drawn to it. Widgery has captured the forbidding aspect of the limestone ranges towering on either side, but in the middle are picturesque scenes of cottages and local people going about their daily lives. At first glance, it might seem claustrophobic, yet there is something homely here too that suggests a nestling into the environment — almost as if there is a protective aspect to the encircling crags. Widgery's skilful modulation of colour is again in evidence.

Image download and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. The image is available on Art UK under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (CC BY-NC-ND).


Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Art UK. Web. 20 April 2024.

Created 20 April 2024