169 years ago yesterday, the Welsh traveller Dic Aberdaron died at the age of 63. In a recent blogpost Elin Meredith explains that even though he has been ‘immortalised through song, art and memory’ he is still seen as an enigma.
Born Richard Robert Jones in Aberdaron in 1780, he became known for his incredible skill of learning languages and eccentric tendencies. Completely self-taught, it is thought the wanderer from the small fishing village on the Llyn Peninsula could speak around 15 languages. He began learning Latin when he was only 12 years old and Greek before he was 20!
As Elin Meredith’s blogpost explains, the latest example of his immortilization comes in the form of an oil painting made available through a new project which has made all the UK’s publicly owned artworks available online. The painting by William Roos, who’s collection is at the National Library of Wales can be seen here.
Your Paintings showcases around 200,000 oil paintings, many of which have never been photographed before. It’s a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation and participating collections and museums from across the UK.
Mark Bell, BBC Commisioning Editor, Arts, said: “Mark Bell, BBC Commissioning Editor, Arts, said: “Taken in its entirety, Your Paintings is the story of the country in pictures, but it is the individual discoveries, new attributions and connections that are most exciting.”
And re-disovering people like Dic is part of the fun. Many questions we have about him will remain unanswered, but as Jan Morris, the author of The Matter of Wales writes, “It is often impossible, even now, to disentangle his truth from his fiction…but there are young Welshmen still who see this way of life as admirable – a life full of aspiration and private satisfaction, but utterly outside the usual canons of success.” And for that Dic Aberdaron will forever be remembered.