Discovering Thomas LeighStaff: Stephanie Roberts
Thomas Leigh was a minor British portrait painter active in the mid-seventeenth century. He is of particular interest as one of the few recorded artists who are believed to have been active in north Wales at that time, yet tantalisingly little is known of him. What information we do have is based entirely on the existence of a small number of signed portraits, predominantly of Welsh sitters. Two of these portraits are in the national collection - Robert Davies of Gwysaney (1616-1666) and his wife Ann Davies, née Mutton, both signed and dated 1643.
These two portraits feature in our newly redeveloped gallery, Art in Wales 1500-1700. Here they are used to illustrate certain aspects of the life and patronage of two eminent gentry families - the Davies family of Gwysaney, and the Muttons of Llannerch. However much remains for us to discover about the families themselves, and about the elusive Thomas Leigh who painted their portraits. The main intention of this work is to attempt to discover more about Thomas Leigh by locating and, where possible, viewing other portraits by him, and to consider at role he played serving the gentry families of Wales.