Taliesin Williams (1787-1847) by Joseph Edwards (1814-1882). 1839, painted plaster, H 65 x W 26, Photo credit: Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (accession no. A 346), kindly made available on Art UK on the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence (CC BY-NC),and selected from a series of views. Commentary by William Gibbs, image scan and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee.

Williams was the son of the influential historian and fabulist Iolo Morganwg, whose credibility as a careful historian was undermined by the discovery that many of the documents and artefacts that he presented to support his idea of the bardic tradition were his own creation. His son, with the bardic name of Ab Iolo, inherited his archive and mantle, but it is not clear how aware he was of his father’s "creativity." The archive of Iolo Morganwg was bought by Lady Llanover, the great supported of Welsh culture and language.

Williams was a fellow townsman of Joseph Edwards, a Merthyr schoolteacher all his life. He encouraged and supported young artists such as Penry Williams and Joseph Edwards, both like him sons of stone masons (see Carradice). When this bust was shown at the Royal Academy, Edwards sent Taliesin Williams a copy of the catalogue (information from the Taliesin Williams Archive, National Library of Wales Item 162). The words on the bust are lines from his celebrated poem about the Druids, Awdl ar Dderwyddyd Ynys Prydain, rendered in Welsh runes and dealing with the brevity of happiness -

Nid yw dyddiau dedwyddyd,
Och, i'n hwyl! ond bychan hyd;
Hawdd ammor y tymmor teg
A red i wewyr adeg." [Davies 276]

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Carradice, Phil. "Penry Williams." BBC Wales. 2 February 2021.

Davies, William. "Joseph Edwards, Sculptor, Part V." Wales. A National Magazine for the English Speaking Parts of Wales. Vol. II. Ed. Owen M. Edwards. Wrexham: Hughes & Son, 1895. 355-60. Hathi Trust. From the library of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Web. 2 February 2021.

Created 2 February 2021