Benjamin Williams Leader Biography | Oil Paintings
3-12-1831 Worcester, ENG – 3-22-1923 Surrey, ENGBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Benjamin Williams Leader father was a friend of John Constable, and a good amateur artist, so he and Benjamin would often go on sketching trips on the banks of the River Severn. Leader worked at his father's office as a draftsman and at night studied art at the Worcester School of Design when he was not working or studying, he would in his leisure time do 'en Plein air' landscape oil painting.
In 1854, at 23 years old, he became a student at the Royal Academy Schools in London, and, in his first year, had a painting accepted for exhibition, "Cottage children blowing bubbles", which was sold to an American buyer for £50, (equal to US$7,000 today).
Benjamin Williams Leader did not complete his course of studies at the Royal Academy, nor did he have to, because his landscape oil paintings were in great demand by affluent purchasers and within only a few years of his first sale, he achieved great commercial success.
In 1857 he changed his name from Benjamin Leader Williams to Benjamin Williams Leader to separate himself from the many other painters with the surname Williams. In autumn of that year he traveled to Scotland and painted A Quiet Pool in Glen Falloch, it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1859 and quickly sold, such was the demand that much of his best work now went to private galleries and was never exhibited.
For the following ten years, Leader divided his painting time between the Severn Valley, Worcestershire, and Wales. At the Royal Academy exhibit in 1881, February Fill Dyke was shown to great acclaim and Leader was made an associate in 1883, and became a Royal Academician in 1898.
In 1891, his brother, Edward Leader Williams, a civil engineer who was knighted for his work for designing the Manchester Ship Canal, which was to become the theme of Leader's largest painting, Manchester Ship Canal: The Making of Eastham Dock.
Benjamin Williams Leader's early works were influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, with their attention to fine detail and emphasis on painting from nature "en Plein air", the inspiration for these early works was the wide open countryside around Worcester. In his later years, he adopted a looser more Impressionistic style, rather than being an exact copy of nature and this turned out to be more popular. He exhibited in every summer exhibition at the Academy until 1922, he was 91 years old.
Benjamin Williams Leader's paintings are currently exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Gallery in London. In 2003, A Summer's Day sold at auction for US$200,000.
Art Movement: Naturalism.
Artists Influencing Benjamin Williams Leader: John Constable.
He Traveled To Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.