New exhibition of the Davies sisters’ iconic print collection

A selection of prints from the famous Gregynog Collection is now available for the public to see for the first time in 30 years at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

The exhibition, Lasting Impressions: Gregynog Prints opened on Saturday and celebrates sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies’ art collection and the work of the Gwasg Gregynog at Gregynog Hall, Tregynon, near Newtown.

The sisters, who were generous supporters of the library, amassed one of Britain’s most important art collections in the 20th century.

Amongst the treasures in the exhibition, which runs until September 23, are 40 etchings by Augustus John, an iconic Rembrandt self-portrait and a set of rare and early proofs from James Whistler’s famous Thames Set.

In 1951, thanks to the sisters’ generosity, the Gregynog Gallery was completed and decorated at the library. The following year, following Gwendoline’s death, Margaret donated a collection of valuable prints to the library.

Pedr ap Llwyd, library chief executive and librarian, said: “Thanks to the Davies sisters’ generosity, the National Library of Wales has a beautiful space in the Gregynog Gallery to share the National Art Collection with the people of Wales.

“We are very pleased therefore to be able to share some of the treasures that they collected, which reflect their sublime tastes, with all who visit this special exhibition.”

Mari Elin Jones, the library’s interpretation officer, said: “Just over 70 years since Margaret Davies bequeathed the print collection to the library, and nearly 30 years since the works were last exhibited, we’re thrilled to share this unique collection with the public one again.

“I hope that these beautiful objects will be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.”

As well as collecting art and their charity work, the Davies sisters’ intention was to create a centre for Arts and Crafts in Wales. This led to the establishment of the Gwasg Gregynog , a private press that produced a limited number of high quality books.

A number of the best printmakers of the 20th century were commissioned to illustrate these books – artists such as Kyffin Williams, Hilary Paynter and Colin See-Paynton – and examples of these illustrations are also on display in the exhibition.

Picture caption:

The Lasting Impressions: Gregynog Prints exhibition at The National Library of Wales.