Llyn Ffynhonnau by Sir Kyffin Williams, £40,000 at Rogers Jones.

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While strong interest came for a number of works by living artists at Rogers Jones(24.5/20% buyer’s premium) latest Welsh Sale in Cardiff, the top spot fell to the leading name in the field, Sir Kyffin Williams (1918-2006).

This was not unexpected. Works by the palette-knife specialist consistently prevail at these events, underlining his status as the most important 20th century artist at dedicated Welsh auctions.

One of the main factors in Sir Kyffin’s market is local connections to the north Welsh landscape. It certainly played a key role when it came to the work that led the sale on November 18: a large scene showing a sunset over Snowdonia.

Sunset scene

Llyn Ffynhonnau, a 2ft 4in x 3ft (71 x 91cm) oil on canvas, had been exhibited at the 1990 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition where it was purchased by the vendor’s father.

Showing a dipping sun with mountains, a lake and the distant sea, it was a trademark picture in every sense with a good variation of colour. It was described in the catalogue as ‘worthy of the prestige of an RA exhibition’.

The fact that it was a quintessential Kyffin Williams landscape of a recognisable setting with all the factors buyers look for - dramatic landscape, muted tones and faint light applied in thick impasto, as well as market freshness - meant it was always likely to find favour commercially.

Estimated at £30,000-40,000, it drew serious bidding from three participants including two online bidders - one being a Welsh ex-pat in London and the other a private client, also in London.

The other bidder was a younger private client who travelled up from Dorset to bid on this particular lot in the room. Like many followers of Sir Kyffin’s work, she had connections to the locality, being from Anglesey. However, despite always coveting a work by the artist, she had never previously bought one.

At the pre-sale viewing, auctioneer Ben Rogers Jones happened to overhear her speaking Welsh and they ended up conversing in the language. When she placed the winning bid at £40,000, Rogers Jones was able to say “llongyfarchiadau” (congratulations) from the rostrum as the hammer went down.

The price was in the upper echelons of results for Sir Kyffin and was the highest recorded in 2023. The highest overall is held by Rogers Jones: a painting of an Anglesey landscape with a farmer and dog that made £62,000 in 2021.

Healthy sums

Two further examples of ‘exhibition quality’ works by the artist also achieved healthy sums. Dyffryn y Fron was another Snowdonia landscape which was even larger although here the focus was on an upland farm with dry-stone walls.

The 2ft 6in x 4ft 2in (75 x 1.26m) oil on canvas also depicted Welsh black cattle and two patrolling Welsh Collie sheepdogs, which seems to have added to its appeal compared to more standard landscapes of the area which appear at auction relatively often.

It was consigned by a London vendor who bought it in 1999 from dealer Thackeray Gallery. Estimated at £20,000-30,000, it took £38,000.


Pembroke Coast by Sir Kyffin Williams, £24,000 at Rogers Jones.

The following lot was an earlier view of the Pembrokeshire coast which was consigned from a private Monmouthshire collection. It was accompanied by two signed letters from Sir Kyffin on headed paper confirming that it was painted in the 1950s when he was staying in St David’s.

With cliffs and crashing waves, the 22in x 2ft 6in (56 x 76cm) oil on canvas again had a lot going for it in terms of style, colour and subject and sold above its £17,000-22,000 pitch at £24,000 to an online buyer.

Overall the sale offered 39 works by Sir Kyffin - nine oils, 11 works on paper and 19 prints - which together raised a hammer total of £202,700

Remarkably, only one lot was unsold - a sign of the continuing depth of interest in the artist in both his homeland and in the Welsh expat community.

Cut above


Running Away with the Hairdresser by Kevin Sinnott, £27,000 at Rogers Jones.

Among the significant prices for works by living artists at the sale was a well-known picture by Kevin Sinnott (b.1947). Although it sold slightly below estimate at £27,000, Ben Rogers Jones believed it to be the highest auction price for a living Welsh artist.

Running Away with the Hairdresser, a 2ft 9in x 3ft 8in (83cm x 1.13m) oil on canvas, was painted in early 1994 after the artist returned to Wales from London and shortly before a larger version was painted that was subsequently acquired by the National Museum of Wales. No other versions are known.

The painting shows two figures sprinting down a terraced street and the subject relates to a sense of abandon and aspiration of young people escaping the south Wales valleys. Sinnott recalled that his “…body tingled with the kind of excitement that comes when you sense a good idea is around the corner”.

As such, the version in the National Museum is apparently among the most viewed publicly owned modern Welsh paintings.

With small differences in composition to the larger version, the work at Rogers Jones came from a vendor in Sussex who bought from Cardiff dealer Martin Tinney in 1995.

Selling to a Welsh art collector who was bidding online, the price easily surpassed the previous auction record for Sinnott which was the £10,000 bid for Three Graces with Primroses in the same rooms in 2022.


Joggers and Bathers, Tenby by Claudia Williams, £9000 at Rogers Jones.

Another living Welsh artist on the rise lately, Claudia Williams (b.1933), was represented by four works at the sale, all of which sold well for a combined £17,900 and setting two of the three highest auction prices ever posted.

The group was led by Joggers and Bathers, Tenby. Showing a family enjoying a day out on a local Welsh beach, it was a typical subject for the artist who been gaining more recognition lately - something reflected commercially back in July when Rogers Jones sold another beach scene for a major record price of £18,000 (see ATG No 2611).

A large oil on canvas measuring 4ft 11in (1.5m) square, it took £9000 against a £7000-12,000 estimate, selling to an online bidder in the US who saw off a London-based Welsh ex-pat. The current picture was the second-highest auction price for the artist, while another work titled Getting Dry made £6000 and set the third-highest price.

Rogers Jones said: “Williams’ prices have been moving upwards in the last few years and I am sure that our world-record price in July for Le Vente gave the market another boost.”

‘Leonardo of the slag heap’


Figures on Ebenezer Street, Swansea by Jack Jones, £8000 at Rogers Jones.

Elsewhere at the current sale, a decent competition came for a work by another of Rogers Jones’ Welsh Sale stalwarts, Jack Jones (1922-93), which made the highest auction price for the Swansea artist in seven years.

Showing figures on Ebenezer Street in his hometown, the 19¾ x 15¾in (50 x 40cm) signed oil on panel dated from 1986 came to auction from a private collection in Herefordshire.

Although he was often referred to as ‘the Welsh Lowry’, Jones always denied the influence of the Salford artist on his own work, instead terming himself “the Leonardo of the slag heap”.

With collectors looking for specific signature touches such as colourful characters and a south Wales terrace with slag heap or mountain visible, the picture at the Cardiff sale had a lot going for it. The two figures shaking hands and the dog seem to have given it something extra commercially, as did its comparatively large size and balance of composition and colour.

Estimated at £3500-4500, it sold at £8000 to the same American-based bidder as the Claudia Williams work, bidding against a rival in the room.