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Welsh artists

Creativity is a deep-rooted part of the culture of Wales and we have a number of great artists to call our own. Here is a list of just a few:  

[Thomas Jones - The Bard - National Museum Wales ]

Sir John ‘Kyffin’ Williams (1918 – 2006)

Kyffin, is probably Wales best known painter and he is regarded as one of the defining artists of the 20th century. He was proud to be Welsh and his paintings were typically inspired by Welsh landscapes, in particular, North Wales such as his works Farmer Blaen Nantmor, Above Nantlle and Snowdonia pictured below.

He was awarded the OBE in 1982 and he was knighted in 1999 for services to the arts. He was also awarded the Glyndwr Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales in 1995. In 2011, following his death in 2006 aged 88, his Patagonia works were unveiled for the first time and proving a huge success they were used to celebrate 150 years of a Welsh presence in Argentina in 2015.

His works can be found in museums and art galleries across Britain such as the MOMA and  Martin Tinney Gallery and there is a permanent exhibition at the Oriel Ynys Môn, Anglesey where he had lived and worked.

[Sir Kyffin Williams –Snowdonia - Cited- Martin Tinney Gallery]

Richard Wilson (1714 – 1782)

Although he trained as a portrait painter, Richard became the first notable British artist to focus on landscape paintings after he was encouraged to do so by artists Francesco Zuccarelli and Joseph Vernet, during his time in Italy (1750 to 1757). He was a founding member of the Royal Academy and taught a number of other painters including Welshman Thomas Jones.

[Richard Wilson - Dolbadarn Castle cited National Museum Wales]

Shani Rhys James

Born in 1953 in Melbourne Australia and the daughter of a Welshman, Shani moved to Wales as a child and became famous for her dejected self portraits. She has won a host of national awards for her work and received an MBE for her services to art, in the Queens 2006 New Year's Honours list.

Shani is arguably one of the most exciting painters of her generation.

[WHITE TOP -oil on linen – Shani Rhys James – Cited Martin Tinney Gallery]


Ceri Richards CBE (1903 - 1971)

A painter and print maker Cari spent most of his life in London, although he was head of painting at Cardiff School of Art during World War II. Accepted into the Royal College of Art in 1924 his work offered a sense of surrealism and he was a prize winner at the 1962 Venice Biennale. Many of his works can be found in the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea or the Tate Gallery London. Richards is well known in Wales for the paintings and drawings he based on the poetry of Dylan Thomas.

John Gibson RA (1790 – 1866)

Born in Conwy Wales, John began work as a monumental mason before having the opportunities to work for famous historian William Roscoe and the protégée of famous Italian sculptor Antonio Canova in Rome. His first work in marble was the Sleeping Shepherd Boy 1824 and it is easy to see why he went onto become the most successful British sculptor of his generation.

[ Sleeping Shepherd Boy 1824 - John Gibson – Cited Royal Academy of Arts]

Augustus John (1878 – 1961) and Gwen John (1876 – 1939)

Brother and Sister Augustus and Gwen are two of our most famous portrait painters from Tenby, Wales. It was Augustus who became the most celebrated artist during his career, as he painted many well known figures of the time such as T.E Lawrence. An elected associate of the Royal Academy, Augustus also received an order of merit from King George VI in 1942.

Gwen spent most of her career painting portraits in France and many now view her as the most talented sibling. In fact, Augustus himself predicted that he would be become known as the brother of Gwen John, referring to the skill of her artwork.

Stanley C Lewis MBE

An illustrator and predominantly portrait painter, Stanley was born in 1905 and studied in the  Newport School of Art in Wales and then the Royal college of art. He received an MBE in 2006 for his life’s works which included illustrations for his wife Minnie, in her children’s books. 

Gustavius Payne (1969 - )

One of the best known Welsh artists of his era, Gustavius Payne creates oil on canvas figurative paintings with references to myths, religion and history which are truly thought provoking.

Michael has received a number of awards and is represented by Ffin-Y-Parc Gallery in Llanrwst, where his work can be viewed.


[Gustavius Payne - The Useful Object, oil on canvas – Cited]


More famous Welsh artists :

  • Christopher David Williams
  • James Innes
  • Gwilym Prichard
  • Alfred Janes
  • Ernest Zobole
  • Cedric Morris
  • Thomas Jones

and contemporary artists

  • Bedwyr Williams
  • James Richards
  • Nathan Wyburn
  • Ken Elias
  • David Garner

Find out more about our art?

Arts Council of Wales

Study art at our Colleges and Universities