William Davis, an Irish origin artist was born in the nineteenth century in Dublin. Belonging to a Liverpool based group of artists, he was greatly influenced by the pre-Raphaelist movement.
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William Davis Early life
William Davis was born in the year 1812 in Dublin. His father was a solicitor and so was expected to become one . Living up to his father’s wishes, he initially took to learning law, but soon gave it up in favor of his heart’s calling. He enrolled as a pupil at the Dublin Society School. After finishing training, he established himself as a portrait painter in Dublin itself.
He held exhibitions at the Royal Hibernian Academy in the years, 1833, 1834, 1835. He, however, received a tepid response. This coerced him to move to Liverpool. Once in Liverpool, he started with painting and exhibiting portraits. He took up the responsibility of a probationer in the Liverpool Academy Schools in the year 1846. The Liverpool Academy was at that time one of the most prestigious institutions. He then joined as a student in the year 1847.
Beginning off by painting portraits, William Davis switched to landscape and still life painting. His paintings had a special touch of truthfulness and sincerity in them. Modern critics describe his paintings as belonging to everyday life, “Loving depictions of utterly insignificant subjects”.
William Davis Famous Paintings
Some of the famous paintings of William Davis include:
Wallesey Mill, Cheshire
View near ship harbor
The shore at New Ferry
In the painting, Wallesey Mill, a man carrying corn on a cart can be seen. Mastery over his depiction of the rural quietness is very evident.A stream,a hedge in the midst of an autumnal pasture takes the viewer to the settings of the English countryside. The deft interplay of light and shadow over a clear English sky, a farm interspersed with shadowy trees and the horizon fading away,all reveal Davis’s realistic feeling and translation of the rural subject.
Became a professor of painting at the Liverpool Academy from 1856 to 1859.
Displayed his paintings at the Liverpool Academy from 1842 to 1844
He became a member of the Liverpool Academy in 1853.
Held exhibitions at the Royal Academy, London between 1851 to 1872.
Became a member of the Hogarth Club, London in the late 1850s.
William Davis Later Life
By 1841, he had gained a lot of popularity in the artists’ community and was invited to exhibit at the Royal Academy in London. It was around this time that he was influenced by Robert Tonge and he switched to painting landscape. Around the same time, he became involved in the pre raphaelist brotherhood movement. His growing inclination towards the movement brought him to the notice of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Maddox Brown.
His association with Brown got him to be invited to become a member of the Hogarth Club. Ironically, though, this association did not help Davis to gain a favorable impression from the famous art critic, John Ruskin. This proved to be a setback to his career.
However, some modern critics described his paintings to be the perfect example of landscape paintings of the pre Raphaelist era. His style of putting life into the most insignificant of pictures went mostly unrecognized.
His paintings found patronage only amongst George Ray and John Miller, and this according to William Davis was humiliating.
William Davis Death
William Davis shifted to London in the year 1870. and died there on the 22 nd of April 1873 . The cause of his death is not known.