Artist who painted last portrait of Dylan Thomas dies

Detail from the last portrait of Dylan Thomas by Gordon Stuart Image copyright Dylan Thomas Centre/Gordon Stuart
Image caption Detail from the last portrait of Dylan Thomas by Gordon Stuart

Gordon Stuart, the Canadian-born artist who painted the last portrait of Dylan Thomas, has died at his home in Swansea at the age of 91 after a short illness.

Mr Stuart was born in Toronto where he attended the city's Ontario College of Art and Design.

It was on a trip to Wales in 1953 that he had a chance meeting with Thomas.

The poet agreed to sit for him just a few months before he left for his last trip to America where he died, aged 39, in New York on 9 November 1953.

Mr Stuart described Thomas as "delightful" and he met him for sittings on three days in September 1953 in the poet's Boathouse and writing shed at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire.

While in west Wales in 1953, Mr Stuart met his wife of 60 years, Mair, and she was at his side when he died.

Image caption The boathouse at Laugharne where Dylan Thomas sat for his portrait by Gordon Stuart

Mr Stuart produced three oil paintings and an oil sketch of Thomas in 1953.

The sketch is in the University of Texas and there is an oil painting in the State University of New York at Buffalo and one in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Mr Stuart held on to the final painting of the poet, which hung at his home in the Uplands area of Swansea - just around the corner from Thomas's birthplace.

When Swansea hosted the 1995 Year of Literature, Mr Stuart became artist in residence at Ty Lleyn/ Dylan Thomas Centre - a role he was to hold for 15 years.

The artist's other portraits include US President Jimmy Carter, Sir Kyffin Williams, Cliff Morgan, Aeronwy Thomas, Gwen Watkins and Sir George Martin.

Geoff Haden, chairman of the Dylan Thomas Society, said: "Gordon was a lovely, gentle person with an impish sense of humour, which he maintained until the last."

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