School of Art

Contact Details

School of Art
Aberystwyth University
Buarth Mawr
SY23 1NG

Tel: +44 (0)1970 622460

Fax: +44 (0)1970 622461


The Great and the Good

During a period that has witnessed the steady decline of official portraiture, the University has maintained a tradition of acquiring and displaying portraits honouring not only those closely associated with the University's foundation and leadership, but also eminent Welsh statesmen, educationalists and clerics.

The statuary was almost all acquired within the first fifty years of the University's existence-a time of enormous civic and national pride in Wales which saw the formation of the constituent colleges of the University of Wales, the National Museum and the National Library of Wales. These institutions demanded public sculpture and the growing national consciousness meant there was no shortage of patronage for Welsh artists.

The inter-war years are very poorly represented but since the 1950s the University has commissioned its own portraits of Principals and Presidents at the end of their term in office. Priority has been given to artists in or from Wales. These portraits are amongst the best examples of contemporary Welsh painting in the collection-including portraits by Sir Kyffin Williams, Alfred Janes, Ceri Richards and Thomas Rathmell. Another outstanding painting, which like this last group will stand the test of time, is the recent portrait of Professor Kenneth O Morgan FBA (Vice-Chancellor) 1995 by National Portrait Gallery award-winning painter Tom Wood.

The commissioned portrait presents a particular set of criteria to the artist, it has to pay homage to the sitter, fulfil the expectations of the institution and accommodate the sitters' pre-conceived ideas of how they wish to be represented for posterity. As art historical documents the collection presents an interesting survey of British portraiture over the past 125 years.