Sir John “Kyffin” Williams, artist, painter, print maker & teacher. He was a Welsh landscape painter who lived on the Island of Anglesey. Born into an old landed Anglesey family, he was educated at Shrewsbury School before joining the 6th Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers as a lieutenant in 1937. After failing a British Army medical examination in 1941 (due to epilepsy), doctors advised him to become an artist, and so began the career of one of Wales’ most prolific artists.
Despite academic difficulties, Williams enrolled at London’s Slade School of Fine Art in 1941 and taught art at Highgate School, London, where he was senior art master from 1944 until 1973. His pupils included the historian Sir Martin Gilbert, Royal Academicians Anthony Green and Patrick Procktor and composers John Tavener and John Rutter. In 1968 he won a scholarship (Winston Churchill Fellowship) to study and paint Welsh descendants in Patagonia. According to BBC North West Wales, Williams was one of the most popular living artists in Wales. His works typically drew inspiration from the Welsh landscape and farmlands. His works appear in many galleries all over Britain and is on permanent exhibition in Oriel Ynys Môn, Anglesey. He was President of the Royal Cambrian Academy and was appointed a member of the Royal Academy in 1974. In 1995, Williams received the Glyndŵr Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales during the Machynlleth Festival. He was awarded the OBE for his services to the arts in 1982 and a KBE in 1999.
During his later life, Williams befriended the artist Rolf Harris. Rolf had always been an admirer of Williams’ work and said that during exhibitions at the Royal Academy he would always immediately search for Kyffins work. Williams died on 1 September 2006, aged 88, at a nursing home in Anglesey after a long battle with cancer.Williams’ works are held in many public collections, including the Government Art Collection, the Arts Council and the National Museum of Wales.