“For Wales? Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . but for Wales!”
— Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons
In the 1860s, John Thomas (1838-1905), a labourer’s son from Cellan, Ceredigion, Wales, worked for a company dealing in writing materials and photographs of famous people. In 1863 Thomas began taking photographs, inviting Welsh preachers of renown to sit for their portraits. His work was a hit. And in 1867 he established his own photographic business, The Cambrian Gallery, taking photographs of Welsh landscapes and people.
Over 3,000 of his negatives was bought by Owen Morgan Edwards (1858 – 1920) to illustrate the magazine Cymru, for which Thomas had supplied images. “You can well understand my joy in receiving an offer of help from Mr John Thomas, in his own modest style,” Edwards wrote. “I knew that no-one has such a complete collection of views of Welsh historic sites. Whenever he visits a particular area, he adds to his collection the picturesque, famous or unusual that he finds there. His rich gallery has been made available to me to use with the warmest of welcomes… It is good to know that the Cambrian Gallery contains a collection of views from nearly every part of Wales, and of the characters who lived in those parts in recent years.”
Via: National Library of Wales