Dr. Dyfri Williams received his doctorate at Lincoln College Oxford, under Professor Martin Robertson, where he also held the first Shuffrey Junior Research Fellowship (1976-9). He was appointed to the British Museum in 1979 and became Keeper (Head of Department) in 1993.
He has written widely on Greek and Roman art and archaeology, producing general surveys, museum catalogues and detailed articles. He was part of the team excavating the sanctuary of Aphaia on Aigina and has also worked at Knossos on Crete and Ephesos in Turkey. He organised a travelling exhibition on Greek gold jewellery, which was shown at the British Museum, the Hermitage St Petersburg and the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York in 1993-4. During his Keepership he was able to make several important acquisitions for the museum, led the refurbishment of many exhibition galleries, and initiated two important museum data base projects, one on Cyprus, the other on Naukratis in Egypt.
From 2008, as Research Keeper at the British Museum, he held visiting fellowships and professorships in Paris, Brussels, and Copenhagen, as well as at the J. Paul Getty Museum and in Grahamstown South Africa. He retired from the British Museum in May 2012 and subsequently held a two-year Gerda Henkel Marie Curie Senior Research Fellowship at the Université libre de Bruxelles.
Dyfri Williams’s research interests include two that are particularly in line with the CReA’s current focuses.
The first is the study of ancient Greek pottery, in particular that of Athens (Bibliography A). Here his work centres on the craftsmen, working outwards from the identification of individuals to their wider social and historical context. It seeks to set potters and painters in their workshops and examine the interrelations between such groups of craftsmen and other craft groups, while also examining their movements, both local and distant. It also involves juxtaposing individuals and their products, especially the shapes of their vessels and the iconography of their images, with the economic environment and wider social and physical settings. Two recent papers take a particularly visual and topographical ‘turn’, the first examining the built environment of Athens through the vase-painter’s gaze (conference, Edinburgh University 2017, publication forthcoming 2019/20), the second concentrating on vase-painters as observers of sculpture (conference, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, June 6-8, 2019).
The second area of research is the history of collecting and of collections (Bibliography B). In this field he has been particularly concerned with the activities of Lord Elgin and his team in Athens. This has recently widened to include reactions by contemporaries, from foreign travellers to Greeks and Muslims (conference, College de France, Paris, 28 May 2019). In addition, a fuller, monograph length work on all aspects of Lord Elgin’s Artistic Mission and his Team nears completion.
Other areas of his research include Greek sculpture, especially the Parthenon, Greek jewellery and Roman silverware.
A: Pottery Studies
Williams 2019/20, forthcoming. “Les Images de la Cité - The Vase-Painter’s Gaze”, in J. Barringer and F. Lissarrague (eds.), Images at the Crossroads: Meanings, Media and Methods (Edinburgh)
Williams 2019. “Villard and the Campana Collection: Euphronios and Smikros” in F. Gaultier, P. Rouillard and A, Rouveret (eds.), Céramique et Peinture Grecques dans la Méditerranée antique – Du Terrain au Musée. Hommage à François Villard (Paris) 161-89
Williams 2018. “A Dourian geusterion: scenes of wine production and sale on Athenian vases”, BABESCH 93 (2018) 75-92
Williams 2017. “Beyond the Berlin Painter: Toward a Workshop View”, in M. Padget (ed.), The Berlin Painter and His World (Princeton) 144-187
Williams and Massar 2017. “Fun and Games at the Symposium: A Corinthian thauma in Brussels”, in A. Vlachou and A. Gadolou (eds.), Terpsis, Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology in Honour of Nota Kourou (Brussels) 229-244, with N. Massar
Williams 2016. ”Peopling kerameia” in N. Eschbach and S. Schmidt (eds.), Topfer Maler Werkstatt (German CVA Beiheft VII, Munich) 54-68
Williams 2013. “Greek Potters and Painters: Marketing and Movement’, in A. Tsingarida and D. Viviers (eds.), Pottery markets in the ancient Greek World (8th-1st centuries BC) (Brussels) 306-317
B: History of Collecting and Collections
Williams 2012. “Lusieri in the Eastern Mediterranean (1800-1821)” in A. Weston-Lewis (ed.), Expanding Horizons: Giovanni Battista Lusieri and the Panoramic Landscape (exhibition catalogue; Edinburgh) 176-186
Williams 2009. “Lord Elgin’s firman”, Journal of the History of Collections 21, 49-76
Williams 2002. “‘Of publick utility and publick property’: Lord Elgin and the Parthenon Sculptures”, in A. Tsingarida and D. Kurtz (eds.), Appropriating Antiquity: Saisir l’ Antique” (Brussels) 103-164
For these and other works see https://ulb.academia.edu/DyfriWilliams/Papers