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John Bromfield Gay Rees (1912-1965)
Welsh miner
Signed and dated '1932', 
inscribed with artist's address verso
Oil on canvas
18½ x 9½ inches 

Provenance: The artist's family


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An incredibly rare work by the artist dating to 1932. In subject matter, it brings to mind William Roberts but with a more linear and sculptural style.

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John Bromfield Gay Rees (1912 - 1965), known to his family and friends as Brom, was a Welsh painter whose work was admired by such eminent figures as Dylan Thomas, Augustus John, William Rothenstein and Eardley Knollys. Introspective and private, he was practically unknown to the general public during his lifetime, and the first major exhibition devoted solely to his work was in 1989 at the Michael Parkin Gallery. Born in Llanelli in South Wales, Bromfield Rees showed an early talent for art; in 1926, aged fourteen, he was sent to the local School of Art and Craft, where he caught the attention of the headmaster D.E.H. Pratt. Under Pratt's guidance, Bromfield Rees honed his skills as an artist, and in 1930 he enrolled in the Royal Academy Schools in London. The young painter flourished in his new surroundings, striking up friendships with Alfred Janes and William Scott, and he gained a reputation for his quick intellect and gregarious nature. In 1935, however, he suffered internal haemorrhaging, which consequently brought on a severe nervous disorder and caused the young artist to become increasingly withdrawn and irritable. Bromfield Rees had been considered one of the most promising artists on the London scene in the 1930s, but his accident meant he could not return to the Royal Academy Schools - despite his best efforts. Though often invited to exhibit his work thereafter, he would almost always reply with the words, ‘I am not ready yet’. He continued to paint for most of the rest of his life, during which he lived in Wales, Bristol and London but though he was admired and approached to exhibit, he was intransigent in his perfectionism, and as a result he never achieved the renown that he was surely due.

Source: The Correspondence of John Bromfield Gay Rees, Welsh Artist. An archive.. | Richard Ford, <>

Examples of his can be found in the Glynn Vivian Gallery and Carmarthen County Hall (viewable on the ArtUK site).


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