Mid Wales

Shane Williams portrait for National Library of Wales

A painting of Shane Williams
Image caption The portrait of Shane Williams depicts him before his final game for Wales

A portrait of Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams by the renowned artist David Griffiths is to join the National Library of Wales' art collection.

The work shows Williams sitting in a dressing room in his Wales strip before his last match for his country against Australia last December.

Williams, 35, is the latest in a long line of public figures depicted by Mr Griffiths, who lives in Cardiff.

He has also painted the Prince of Wales and ex-prime minister Jim Callaghan.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, opera singer Bryn Terfel, boxing great Joe Calzaghe and former Wales rugby stars Barry John and Bleddyn Williams have also been painted by Mr Griffiths during his 40-year career.

The Aberystwyth-based national library holds a number of portraits by Mr Griffiths of eminent Welsh figures.

The artist, who was brought up in Pwllheli and trained at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, became famous for a painting of the Prince of Wales, receiving the freedom of the city of Cardiff in the year of the investiture in 1969.

'Sense of presence'

Mr Griffiths said: "I am very interested in excellence and Shane, like other public figures I have painted, has excelled in his field - he is an iconic sportsman."

The portrait, which was painted in oils on a 30 x 40in canvas over six months, shows Williams wearing his kit for his last international match against Australia in Cardiff.

It also features the words "Bye Bye", which Williams had stitched on his boots.

Williams, Wales' record international try-scorer, is now playing in Japan for Mitsubishi Dynaboars after signing a one-year contract.

The former Ospreys winger was named the International Rugby Board's player of the year in 2008.

During this year's National Eisteddfod in the Vale of Glamorgan he was honoured for his contribution to national life with a blue robe.

Paul Joyner, head of archive and art acquisitions at the National Library of Wales, said: "This portrait of Shane by David Griffiths has a real sense of presence.

"We feel as though Shane has just walked in and will be ready in a moment to play another game for Wales."

The portrait will be unveiled at the library in September.

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