Ceri Richards

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Ceri Richards
Ceri Richards.jpg
Ceri Richards in 1960
Born(1903-06-06)6 June 1903
Dunvant, Wales
Died9 November 1971(1971-11-09) (aged 68)
London, England
Known for
Spouse(s)Frances Clayton (married 1929)

Ceri Giraldus Richards CBE (6 June 1903 – 9 November 1971) was a Welsh painter, print-maker and maker of reliefs.[2]


Richards was born in 1903 in the village of Dunvant, near Swansea, the son of Thomas Coslett Richards and Sarah Richards (born Jones). He and his younger brother and sister, Owen and Esther, were brought up in a highly cultured, working-class environment. His mother came from a family of craftsmen; his father, an employee of a tinplate foundry in Gowerton, was active in the local chapel and wrote poetry in Welsh and English. For many years he conducted the Dunvant Excelsior Male Voice Choir, which would become the Dunvant Male Choir. All three children were taught to play the piano, and became familiar with the works of Bach and Handel in the cycle of Christian celebration. In later years music would be an important stimulus to Richards's painting - as would his youthful sensitivity to the landscapes of the Gower Peninsula and the cycles of nature.

At Gowerton Intermediate School he drew constantly and won local competitions. When he left school to become apprenticed to a firm of electricians in Swansea, he devoted his evenings to studying engineering draughtsmanship at Swansea College of Technology and drawing at the Swansea College of Art (now part of University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

In 1921, at the age of 18, Richards enrolled full-time at the Swansea College of Art, then under the direction of William Grant Murray. During his time at the College he spent less time in painting than in drawing from classical casts and studying industrial design and graphics. The strongest impact on him during these years appears to have been the week's summer school in 1923, which he spent under the direction of Hugh Blaker at Gregynog Hall, the country house of Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, where he first saw the canvases of Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Corot and Daumier, the sculpture of Rodin and sheets of old-master and modern drawings. The experience confirmed him in his vocation; and in the same year he applied for, and won, a scholarship to study in London at the Royal College of Art.

Richards entered the Royal College of Art in 1924.

Afterwards Richards spent most of his life in London, apart from a period teaching art in Cardiff, where he was head of painting at Cardiff School of Art during World War II.[2]

In 1929 he married Frances Clayton, a fellow artist.[3] They had two daughters - Rachel (born 1932) and Rhiannon (born 1945). Rachel married the paleontologist Colin Patterson.[4]

His work gradually moved towards surrealism after exposure to the work of Picasso and Kandinsky. He was also a talented musician, and music is a theme for much of his artwork. From 1959 onwards, he made prints for the Curwen Press. One of the high points of his career was the Venice Biennale of 1962, where he was a prizewinner.

Richards died in London on 9 November 1971. He was buried, with his parents, in the churchyard of Ebenezer Chapel in Dunvant, not far from where he was born.

Many of his works are in the Tate Britain collection.[5] The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea (where Richards' first solo exhibition took place in 1930) also holds a collection. Good examples of his work are also to be found in the gallery of the National Museum Cardiff and the Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.

He designed stained glass windows for Derby Cathedral (1964-5), and for the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (1965).[1]

Select works[edit]

  • Still Life with Music (1933)
  • The Sculptor and his Object (1934)
  • The Sculptor in his Studio (1937)
  • The Female Contains All Qualities (1937)
  • Blossoms (1940)
  • The Coster Woman (1943)
  • The force that through the green fuse drives the flower (three lithographs) (1947)
  • The Pianist (1948)
  • Interior with piano, woman and child painting (1949)
  • Trafalgar Square (1951)
  • Black Apple of Gower (1952)
  • Beethoven and St Cecilia (1953)
  • Do not go gentle into that good night (1956) [2 versions]
  • Deposition (1958)
  • La Cathédrale engloutie (1957–1962) [series]
  • Poissons d'or (1963)
  • Claire de lune (1967)
  • White Blossom (1968)
  • Elegy for Vernon Watkins (1971)


  1. ^ a b "Ceri Richards". BBC. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b Ian Chilvers, John Glaves-Smith, ed. (2009), A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art, Oxford University Press, p. 1434, ISBN 978-0-199239665
  3. ^ "Frances Richards biography". Tate.
  4. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 2004.
  5. ^ "Ceri Richards biography". Tate. Retrieved 22 October 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Overton, Tom. "Ceri Richards (1902–1971)". British Council. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
  • Mel Gooding, Ceri Richards (2002), ISBN 0-906506-20-4 - described at "Ceri Richards". Welsh Arts Archive. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. [by Richards's son-in-law]
  • Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Ceri Richards: a technical investigation (1993)
  • Ceri Richards and Dylan Thomas - Keys To Transformation A Monograph by Richard Berengarten (1981)
  • Ceri Richards Drawings to Poems by Dylan Thomas (1980) ISBN 978-0905289472
  • John Rothenstein, Modern English Painters Wood to Hockney (1974) ISBN 978-0356046082
  • Roberto Sanesi, The Graphic Work of Ceri Richards (1973) OCLC 1008039169
  • John Ormond, 'Ceri Richards Root and Branch', in Planet; 10 (1972 February / March)
  • Homage to Ceri Richards 1903-1971 [Fischer Fine Art catalogue] (1972]
  • Ceri Richards, 'Looking at Picasso's Sculptures', in Studio International (1967 July August)
  • Tom Phillips, 'St Edmund Hall altarpiece', in The Oxford Magazine (4 December 1958)
  • John Berger, 'Ceri Richards', in New Statesman and Nation (14 April 1956)
  • John Berger, 'Ceri Richards at the Redfern', in New Statesman and Nation (14 May 1953)
  • Patrick Heron, 'Round the London Art Galleries', in The Listener (13 September 1951)
  • Ceri Richards, [Answers to questions], in Objective Abstractions [exhibition catalogue, Zwemmer Gallery] (1934)
  • John Piper, 'Contemporary English Drawing', in The Listener (11 October 1933)

External links[edit]