Exploring the Artistic Wales: Where can we find great masterpieces?

Van Gogh’s portrait will soon be on display at the National Museum Cardiff, and the master’s paintings are fascinating. What other masterpieces are we enjoying at the museum?

Museums are the best place to find a masterpiece to admire.

Throughout history, many artists have used self-portraits to explore and express themselves. And one of the most famous is heading to Cardiff to go on display in the National Museum.

The exhibition of Van Gogh’s portrait will feature Van Gogh’s Portrait of the Artist (1887), which is on loan from Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Dr Kath Davies, Director of Collections and Research, Amgueddfa Cymru Museum Wales, said, “I am sure visitors to the museum will enjoy seeing this work by one of the world’s best known painters displayed alongside paintings by artists from our collection here in Wales.”

The art collection at National Museum Cardiff is one of Europe’s finest.

There’s no doubt it’s exciting to have this Dutch masterpiece in our capital, but if you want to really understand Wales, there is a treasure trove of Welsh artists that you can explore. 

Ben Roger Jones, the valuer of Welsh art, said, “Within the Welsh national galleries in Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth and north Wales, there is vast selection of important paintings by Welsh artists. The collection of Welsh public art is not confined to a particular period, there is work from all ages up to the present.”

“Almost every artist who has made a meaningful impact on Wales is represented in the national collection,” said Ben, “The most well known of these include Richard Wilson, Thomas Jones, Sir Frank Brangwyn, Augustus John, Gwen John, Cedric Morris, Sir Kyffin Williams, Josef Herman et al.”

And Kyffin Williams is the one we need to mention who knighted artist and Royal Academician. Renowned for his expressive impasto landscapes of Snowdonia, his work is celebrated in public collections and by private collectors. A pivotal figure in the Royal Cambrian Academy, he ensured its enduring legacy according to the introduction from Art UK.

Almost every artist who has made a meaningful impact on Wales is represented in the national collection.

Ben believed that every painter ought to study the work of Old Masters. He said, “Richard Wilson (1714–1782) who is considered the father of landscape painting in Wales, and Wilson was a huge influence on Wales’ most popular artist Sir Kyffin Williams.” 

Also “The best place to see Old Masters in Wales is the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.And if you look at the work of another contemporary great Welsh landscape artist, David Woodford, you can see that the use of light is a key element and the Wilson inspiration is clear,” added Ben.

He recommended, “The best places to see public art in Wales are the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, The Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea, National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and Oriel Ynys Mon in Anglesey. There are also several good local museums with important works relating to that particular region. ”