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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 January, 2004, 15:14 GMT
Legend on canvas sold
The Death of Gelert by Richard Ansdell
In 1994 the painting was cleaned and restored

A painting of one of Wales' most revered legends - Death of Gelert - has been sold for 16,000 at auction.

The 19th Century work by Richard Ansdell depicts the story of Prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, who killed his faithful dog Gelert after he mistakenly thought it had attacked his baby son.

The picture, owned by the NHS Trust Bolton, had in recent years been loaned to the University of Wales, Bangor, and was auctioned on Friday by Maxwells of Wilmslow, Cheshire.

Maxwells' owner, Max Blackmore, said the new owner, a dealer from the Manchester area, was "delighted" with the painting.

It had been estimated before the auction the painting could have fetched up to 40,000.

Mr Blackmore said: "I had been hoping for some interest from Wales so I am a little bit disappointed.

"It is a very nice painting - it's enormous - 7.5ft x 9ft in its frame - and it wasn't signed which is unusual for its painter."

Giant wolf

The picture depicts how Llywelyn left the dog to look after his baby son when he went hunting, only to return to discover Gelert's muzzle soaking with blood and the infant nowhere to be seen.

Overcome by rage, the prince plunged a sword into the dog's side.

Llywelyn then heard a cry from bushes nearby and found his son, safe in his cradle, next to the body of a wounded giant wolf.

Only then did he realise his terrible mistake in killing his loyal companion who fought the wolf and saved his son's life.

Full of remorse Llywelyn cradled his son in one arm and the dog's head in the other, watching over Gelert as he died.

The picturesque village of Beddgelert - grave of Gelert - in Snowdonia, where the story was said to have unfolded, is named in memory of the dog.

The painting was acquired by friends of the artist, industrialist and philanthropist brothers Stephen and Harrison Blair from Bolton.

The painting was later bequeathed by the family to the Blair Hospital in Bolton which was built from money donated by Stephen.

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