Sir Kyffin Williams KBE RA (1918-2006)

Born on Anglesey in 1918, Kyffin Williams, the younger son of a bank manager descended from a long line of Welsh Clergymen. He left Shrewsbury School in 1935 having won an art prize and was eventually to become one of Wales’s most loved artists, celebrated particularly for his compelling portraits and his landscapes and seascapes of North Wales.

In October, 1941 Williams entered the Slade school of Art, after he was obliged to leave his position in the Royal Welch Fusiliers due to poor health. Here he managed to secure the Slade Portrait Prize and the Robert Ross Leaving Scholarship.

From 1944-1973 Williams taught art at Highgate School in London, spending the school holidays in Wales to paint and draw.

His First one-man exhibition was held at Colnaghi in London in 1948. Later he showed a variety of prestigious locations in England and Wales including the Leicester Galleries, the Royal Academy, the Glynn Vivian Museum & Art Gallery, Swansea and Howard Roberts Gallery in Cardiff, and the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Kyffin Williams received many honours, both for his exceptional work and his generosity to other artists. Honours were conferred on him by the University of Wales, the Honorable Society of Cymmrodorian and the Contemporary Art Society of Wales.

He was also a senior Royal Academician and was President of the Royal Cambrian Academy for many years.


In 1982 he received an O.B.E. for his services to the Arts, and he was awarded a knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen in the New Year’s Honours list in 2000.