Press Releases

Faces of Wales

National Museum Cardiff
3 June – 24 September 2006

Katheryn of Berain, the Tudor "Mother of Wales", Thomas Pennant, the 18th century travel writer, Mary Evans, the first love of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dylan Thomas, iconic poet, Paul Robeson, the American actor, singer and civil rights activist, Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and the father of modern architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright are just some of the famous sitters featured in a new exhibition 'Faces of Wales' at National Museum Cardiff ( 3 June – 24 September 2006).

The exhibition presents paintings and photographs of people who have contributed to the cultural, political and economic life of Wales over the past 400 years by artists such as Thomas Gainsborough, Johann Zoffany and Augustus John. Many of the sitters are established Welsh figures, while others have strong Welsh associations, some of which have long been overlooked.

'Faces of Wales' presents an overview of the development of portraiture in Wales from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century. During the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was only the powerful elite made of the country landowners and merchants who could afford to commission portraits. By the early nineteenth century the increasingly prosperous middle classes in Wales could also have their faces recorded for posterity, as could such characters as the fiery orator Reverend Christmas Evans and Richard Llwyd, the

'Bard of Snowdon'.

It was the development of photography that transformed the nature of portraiture in Wales and elsewhere, as it was a cheap and relatively instantaneous way to achieve a faithful likeness.

Also on display will be works from the AXA Art Photographic Commission winners, Dominic Hawgood who photographed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Ric Bower who captured the award-winning writer, Sarah Waters. Established by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and kindly sponsored by AXA Art Insurance, the project aims to support emerging photographic talent in Wales. An annual event, the competition is open to recently graduated photographers.

Dr Ann Sumner, Head of Fine Art, Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales said:

"We are really excited to be showcasing this exhibition which brings together images from the political, cultural and public life of Wales from the 16th century right up until figures in the news today. All the works are the Museum's portraiture collection and we are very excited to have established the AXA Art Photographic Commission to ensure future development."

The National Portrait Gallery, London is also currently displaying recently acquired works which have Welsh connections. They include the actor Rhys Ifans by Paul Stewart and singer Charlotte Church by Jason Bell. This display is on show until 14 July 2006. National Museum Cardiff is one of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales' seven national museums across Wales. The others are, St Fagans: National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.

Entry to all Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales sites is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Notes to Editors

For more details, please contact:

Sian James, Press Officer, National Museum Cardiff
Direct line: 029 2057 3185
Email: Email Sian James