William Roos (1808-1878) was one of Wales’ most successful portrait painters. He was known for his portraits of the famous people of nineteenth century Wales – often these were done from memory but he also painted landscapes and commissions of families and favourite animals. The exhibition will be the first time so many paintings by William Roos will be together – having been curated specially by renowned art historian Peter Lord. It will be open to the public from 1 February to 5 July 2020 at Oriel Môn, Llangefni, Anglesey.
Support from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund has ensured the loan and conservation of William Roos’ work from the national collections of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales and the National Library of Wales. Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.
Councillor R. Meirion Jones, Education, Youth, Libraries and Culture Portfolio lead, stated “It is important that works from national collections that are relevant to Anglesey and Wales can be hosted at a venue like Oriel Môn. The loans of work by William Roos and the exhibition will give prominence to the work of a local artist who contributed so much to our national story. We are grateful to the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, National Museum Wales and the National Library of Wales who have helped make this possible.”
Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said:
“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase William Roos’ work to a much wider audience. We are delighted that the exhibition will shed new light on Roos’ talents and introduce his work to visitors who may not be familiar with his paintings and their significance to Welsh culture.”
One of the four paintings on loan from Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales is a painting of John Jones, Talhaiarn titled ‘The Bard in Meditation’, c.1850-1864. John Jones, Talhaiarn was a famous poet who commissioned a number of portraits of himself by Roos. He was also a friend and admirer. ‘The Bard in Meditation’ is a remarkable likeness to the sitter but also demonstrates Roos’ knowledge of a Welsh visual tradition – as he references earlier bardic imagery. The painting of Margaret Thomas, Llangaffo is one of 20 works that will be on loan from the National Library of Wales. It is one of his most highly finished works and is an example of the prosperous farming families from whom Roos found commissions as he travelled looking for work. He also painted her husband, Hugh and sons.
Alongside the loans from national collections and private individuals, there will also be two works that are new to Oriel Môn. Esther Roberts, Senior Manager at Oriel Môn wrote “As part of a wider project to bring attention to the genius of William Roos, Oriel Môn have been able to secure two paintings by William Roos for the collection. Previously, he was not represented in the collection. The support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has enabled the purchase and conservation of two paintings by William Roos for the collection of Oriel Môn and will ensure that they will be on show in this exciting new exhibition and cared for in a public collection in the long term.”
Stephen Barlow, Head of Engagement for the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales, said: “Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, Oriel Môn are able to add to their public collection by purchasing and conserving two paintings by the renowned local artist, William Roos. For the first time, Oriel Môn will now exhibit and interpret William Roos' work to those who visit and live on Anglesey, that will be in their ownership, and will encourage individuals and groups from the community to take part in interpreting his life and work, providing insight to a local artist that was one of Wales’ most successful portrait painters’.
Born in Amlwch, Anglesey, William Roos travelled widely to make a living – across Wales, Liverpool and London and became one of the best attested exemplars of nineteenth century painting practice in Britain. Although not many people are aware of William Roos’ significance today, this solo exhibition, the first of its kind, will give an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by his contribution to Wales’ art history. This world first exhibition that brings together so many works by William Roos will be inspiring. Running from 1 February until 5 July 2020, the exhibition has free admission. Oriel Môn is open daily, 10am-5pm.
Signed copies of Peter Lord’s new book, William Roos and the Itinerant Life, published by Oriel Môn, 2020 will be available. The Oriel Môn Trust has supported the publication.
There will be a number of community and schools workshops as well as events for the public to enjoy including lectures, an event to share information and images about Roos as well as portrait drawing sessions.
Notes to editors:
Oriel Môn changes lives by caring for, interpreting and promoting Anglesey’s unique heritage and culture. It seeks to inspire creativity, and to provide learning opportunities and enjoyment for everyone. It’s aims are to be an organisation that is:
- Engaging visitors with inspiring collections and exhibitions on the doorstep
- Creating a flagship attraction that defines an island and its people
- Offering a shared social space with exciting opportunities for participation
- Developing a resilient, sustainable and innovative centre for excellence.
Opening in 1990 to house the collections of Charles Tunnicliffe, Oriel Môn has since developed into being a significant public asset for Anglesey Council which incorporates a large collection of works by Kyffin Williams, significant art collections and historical artefacts that tell the story of Anglesey and Wales to locals and visitors. Oriel Môn welcomes between 80-90,000 visitors per annum to its exhibitions and events. Oriel Môn also works with many educational and community groups. Oriel Môn is supported by Anglesey Council, the Isle of Anglesey Charitable Trust and also generates income through the support of all who purchase art and gifts from our shop.
Garfield Weston Foundation
Established over 60 years ago in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK with grants around £70million annually. It has donated over £1billion to charities since it was established.
One of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, amongst others – a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown so too have the charitable donations.
From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. More than 1,800 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years alone Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. Art Fund is independently funded, with the core of its income provided by 151,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions and subscription to Art Quarterly magazine. In addition to grant giving, Art Fund’s support to museums includes Art Fund Museum of the Year (won by St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff in July 2019) and a range of digital platforms. www.artfund.org
The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.
Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund
Ymddiriedolaeth Oriel Môn Trust
Ymddiriedolaeth Oriel Môn Trust is a registered charity established in 2020 to advance the arts, culture, heritage and education for the benefit of the public, in particular but not exclusively by promoting the appreciation and understanding of the history, culture and visual arts of Anglesey, through the collections, exhibitions and activities of Oriel Môn.