Williams, Kyffin 1918-2006

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Williams, Kyffin 1918-2006
(John Kyffin Williams)


See index for CA sketch: Born May 9, 1918, in Llangefni, Anglesey, Wales; died September 1, 2006. Artist and author. One of the most famous Welsh painters of modern times, Williams was popular for his depictions of native landscapes and humorous portrayals of people. Although he graduated from Shrewsbury School in 1935 with an art prize, his early interest was in the military. After working briefly for a land agent firm, he enlisted in the army and was assigned to the 6th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He served for five years, but increasing bouts of epilepsy forced him out of the army in 1941. Williams attended the Slade School of Art in London, winning the Slade Portrait Prize and a scholarship. He was then hired as art master at Highgate School in London, where he taught from 1944 to 1973. As a painter, Williams favored the use of the palette knife, even though it was an unfashionable tool at the time. His paintings nevertheless became widely popular in Great Britain, especially his native Wales, and a saying evolved that no Welsh home was complete without a harp and a Kyffin painting. Active in the arts community, he was a former vice president of the Society of Cymmrodorion, deputy-lieutenant of Gwynned, and president of the Royal Cambrian Academy from 1969 to 1976, and then again from 1992 until his death. Named a Royal Academician of the Royal Academy, Williams was an officer of the Order of the British Empire and became a Knight Bachelor in 1999. In his later years, he also became known for his criticism of modern art schools and competitions, lamenting that British schools no longer taught drawing to students and disparaging such modern movements as installation art. He was the author and illustrator of a number of art books, as well as the autobiography Across the Straits (1973).



Williams, Kyffin, Across the Straits, Duckworth (London, England), 1973.


Times (London, England), September 2, 2006, p. 70.

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Williams, Kyffin 1918-2006

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