Museums and libraries

The National Library of Wales,Aberystwyth.

The National Museum [of] Wales was founded by royal charter in 1907 and is now aWelsh Government sponsored body. The National Museum is made up of seven sites across the country, including the National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum and Big Pit National Coal Museum. In April 2001, the attractions attached to the National Museum were granted free entry by the Assembly, and this action saw the visitor numbers to the sites increase during 2001–2002 by 87.8% to 1,430,428.[267]

Aberystwyth is home to the National Library of Wales, which houses some of the most important collections Museums and libraries in Wales, including the John William's Library and theShirburn Castle collection.[268] As well as its printed collection the Library holds important Welsh art collections including portraits and photographs, ephemera such as postcards, posters and Ordnance Survey maps.[268]

Visual arts

Main article: Welsh art

Many works of Celtic art have been found in Wales.[269] In the Early Medieval period, the Celtic Christianity of Wales was part of the Insular art of the British Isles. A number of illuminated manuscripts from Wales survive, of which the 8th-centuryHereford Gospels and Lichfield Gospels are the most notable. The 11th-century Ricemarch Psalter (now in Museums and libraries Dublin) is certainly Welsh, made in St David's, and shows a late Insular style with unusual Viking influence.[270][271]

The best of the few Welsh artists of the 16th–18th centuries tended to leave the country to work, many of them moving to London and Italy. Richard Wilson (1714–82) is arguably the first major British landscapist. Although more notable for his Italian scenes, he painted several Welsh scenes on visits from London. By the late 18th century, the popularity of landscape art grew and clients were found in the larger Welsh towns, allowing more Welsh artists to stay in Museums and libraries their homeland. Artists from outside Wales were also drawn to paint Welsh scenery, at first because of the Celtic Revival. Then in the early 19th century, the Napoleonic Wars preventing the Grand Tour to continental Europe, travel through Wales came to be considered more accessible.[272][273]

The Bard, 1774, by Thomas Jones (1742–1803)

An Act of Parliament in 1857 provided for the establishment of a number of art schools throughout the United Kingdom and the Cardiff School of Artopened in 1865. Graduates still very often had to leave Wales to work butBetws-y-Coed became a popular centre for artists and its artist's colony helped Museums and libraries form the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art in 1881.[274] The sculptor Sir William Goscombe John made many works for Welsh commissions, although he had settled in London. Christopher Williams, whose subjects were mostly resolutely Welsh, was also based in London. Thomas E. Stephens and Andrew Vicari had very successful careers as portraitists based respectively in the United States and France.[275][276] Sir Frank Brangwyn was Welsh by origin but spent little time in Wales.

Many Welsh painters gravitated towards the art capitals of Europe.Augustus John and his sister Gwen John, lived mostly in London and Paris. However, the Museums and libraries landscapists Sir Kyffin Williams andPeter Prendergast lived in Wales for most of their lives, though remaining in touch with the wider art world. Ceri Richardswas very engaged in the Welsh art scene; as a teacher in Cardiff and even after moving to London. He was a figurative painter in international styles including Surrealism. Various artists have moved to Wales, including Eric Gill, the London-Welshman David Jones and the sculptor Jonah Jones. The Kardomah Gang was an intellectual circle centred on the poetDylan Thomas and poet and artist Vernon Watkins in Swansea, which also included the painter Alfred Janes.[277]

South Wales had Museums and libraries several notable potteries, one of the first important sites being the Ewenny Pottery in Bridgend, which began producing earthenware in the 17th century.[278] In the 18th and 19th centuries, with more scientific methods becoming available more refined ceramics were produced led by the Cambrian Pottery (1764–1870, also known as "Swansea pottery") and later Nantgarw Pottery near Cardiff, which was in operation from 1813 to 1822 making fine porcelainand then utilitarian pottery until 1920.[278] Portmeirion Pottery, founded in 1960 by Susan Williams-Ellis, daughter of Clough Williams-Ellis, creator of the italianate village of Portmeirion, Gwynedd, is based in Stoke-on-Trent, England.[279]

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