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More About This Title Portraits


The people of Wales have always appeared to me to have an unusual curiosity about their fellow men. Sir Kyffin Williams painted the landscapes and seascapes of his beloved north Wales with a passion that is evident in every stroke of his pallete-knife. He never failed to give thanks for the life-long opportunites he had to paint his native Wales, "the land that I feel is so very much in my bones." But "land" for Kyffin also meant his fellow countrymen, and throughout his life, he painted portraits, some of which he considered to be among his best work. In 1993, Oriel Ynys Môn in Llangefni held an immensely successful retrospective exhibition of the portraits, to which the artist added the annotation and, most enjoyably, the anecdotes which make up this book. The artist's enthusiasm for human foibles is evident throughout, as is his sympathy. Of his second autobiographical volume, A Wider Sky, Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan wrote: "It is a relief to see Welsh people portrayed with love, but not uncritically, and without sentimentality, and to read anecdotes in which the werin are never patronised: it is just the kind of book to give to English people" The same may surely be said of Portraits.


Born in Llangefni, Anglesey in 1918, Kyffin Williams R.A. achieved international recognition as an artist with a highly distinctive style. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London from 1941 to 1944. He went on to become the Senior Art Master at Highgate School from 1944 to 1973, and in 1968 gained a Winston Churchill Fellowship to record the Welsh in Patagonia. Williams's first one-man exhibition was held at P & D Colnaghi, London in 1949. Subsequent solo exhibitions were held at the Leicester Galleries, London, Glynn Vivian Museum & Art Gallery, Swansea, Howard Roberts Gallery, Cardiff and the Tegfryn Gallery, Menai Bridge. He exhibited in Attic Gallery from 1963 and at the Thackeray Gallery, London biennially from 1975. He also exhibited regularly at the Albany Gallery, Cardiff. A retrospective of his work was held in 1987 at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, and subsequently toured to the Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno and the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea. A portraits retrospective was held at Oriel Ynys Mon, Llangefni in 1993. Williams was President of the Royal Cambrian Academy from 1969 to 1976, and again from 1992. He was elected Royal Academician in 1974. He was made an Honorary Fellow of University College, Swansea (1989), University College, Bangor (1991) and University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1992). In 1991 he received the Medal of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. Kyffin Williams died on September 1, 2006.