Vosper, Sydney Curnow 1866-19421909

The National Library of Wales

The National Library of Wales
Aberystwyth, United Kingdom

The painting is today an artistic Welsh icon. Painted in 1909 by the artist Curnow Vosper, it depicts a scene at Salem Chapel, Cefncymerau, Llanbedr near Harlech. Siân Owen is the central character of the painting.

Salem is an iconic record of Welsh life and the noncomformist tradition in Wales and increasingly became a talking-point due to the fact that some viewed an image of the devil in the fold of the shawl of Sian Owen. The work purchased by the Library is one of two versions painted by Vosper.

The first was originally purchased by an industrialist called William Hesketh Lever and was used in a far reaching promotional campaign by Sunlight Soap, the Lever Brothers' company. As a result, reproductions of the painting were widely circulated around Britain and the image is famous for its appearance in homes across Wales. It is no surprise that today Salem is one of Wales' most famous paintings, as iconic as The Hay Wain in England some have argued.

This second version was painted for the artist's brother-in-law, Frank James.


  • Title: Salem
  • Creator: Vosper, Sydney Curnow 1866-1942
  • Date Created: 1909
  • Location Created: Salem Chapel, Cefncymerau, Llanbedr near Harlech
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: View in NLW's Collections Viewer:

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