Christopher Williams

Christopher David Williams (1873 – 1934) was a Welsh artist.

He was born in Maesteg, Wales. His father Evan Williams intended him to be a doctor, but he disliked the idea. A visit to the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, in 1892, where he spent some hours in front of Frederick Leighton’s “Perseus and Andromeda,” revealed a new world to him. He left the Gallery with a firm decision that he would be an artist.

He studied first in Neath under Mr. Kerr and later at the Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools.

In 1902 his “Paolo and Francesca” was hung in the Royal Academy and his portrait of his father in 1903. These were the first of 18 paintings exhibited there.

His portrait of Sir Alfred Lyall exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1910 brought him an invitation from the Royal Society of British Artists to join their ranks and he exhibited 37 paintings in their Gallery over the next decade. He also exhibited in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters until 1930.

In 1911, he received a commission from King George V to work on a commemorative painting of the Investiture of Edward, Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle. As well as attending the ceremony, he visited Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Family sat for him in order to complete the detail of the picture. He completed two versions of this painting.

Among his portraits were those of Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George, Sir John Williams, Sir John Rhys, Sir Henry Jones, Sir John Morris Jones, Dr Stanton Coit, Sir Frederick Mills, John Hinds MP. He painted the first of three portraits of Lloyd George in the summer of 1911. Lloyd George described him as “one of the most gifted artists Wales has produced”.

During the First World War, he painted the Welsh Charge at Mametz Wood, now in the Welsh National Museum.

He painted three scenes from the Mabinogion. Ceridwen (1910) and Branwen (1915) are in the collection of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea. Blodeuwedd (1930) is at the Newport Museum and Art Gallery.

He painted many landscapes in Wales, Switzerland, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco and Holland. Amongst his landscapes is “The Red Dress” at the National Museum of Wales and “Holidays – Village Girls at Llangrannog” in the collection of the National Library of Wales.

In the post-war years and until his death he did much to stimulate an interest in art in Wales and was a frequent adjudicator at the National Eisteddfod, a member of the Arts Committee of the National Museum of Wales and of the Council of Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion.

He had a great love for humanity and deep sympathy with the downtrodden and oppressed. Shortly before his death in 1934 he presented to the Salvation Army a large picture of the Thames Embankment scene at night which he called “Why?”

In 1973 an exhibition was organised on the centenary of his birth at the National Museum of Wales, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Maesteg Town Hall.

He married Emily Appleyard and together they had two sons, Gwyn and Ivor. His second son Ivor Williams was also a Welsh artist. He was the brother-in-law of fellow artist Fred Appleyard

His works are in the collections of the National Museum of Wales, National Library of Wales, Royal Collection, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Newport Museum, Parc Howard Museum and Art Gallery, Carmarthenshire County Museum, Maesteg Town Hall, Bridgend County Borough Council, Caernarfon Council, Harewood House, Aberystwyth University, National Liberal Club, Lloyd George Museum, Ffyone Mansion, Bangor University, Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Froebel College, Templeton House, Dulwich College, Llandovery College, Neath Port Talbot College, Bradford Museums Galleries and Heritage.

Leave a Reply