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Hugh William Williams (1773 - 1829 - Edinburgh)

Hugh William Williams was a Scottish painter of Welsh descent. Born aboard his father’s ship during a voyage to the West Indies, he was orphaned when quite young and raised by his grandmother in Edinburgh, where he studied at Alexander Nasmyth’s private drawing-school, together with David Wilkie and John Thomson of Duddingston. He became a well-known topographical painter, noted initially for such romantic watercolour views of Scotland as Cottage of the Ploughlands near Edinburgh (1814; Glasgow A.G. & Mus.). Between 1816 and 1818 he made an extensive tour of Italy, Greece and the Greek islands, returning to Scotland to publish a two-volume book of his travels (1820). His exhibition of views of Greece held in Edinburgh in 1822 was received with enthusiasm and earned him the nickname ‘Grecian’ Williams. His practice was to work up his watercolour sketches in the studio, adding opaque watercolour, oil paint and varnish, as in Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sunion (1828; Edinburgh, N.G.). His Arcadian settings reveal his admiration for the work of Poussin and Claude, and his increasingly broad handling of paint his knowledge of Turner. Two further volumes of engravings were published in 1829.