Spring (England, 1859)

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Oil on Canvas
Inscribed on a label verso: No 2 / Spring / D A Williamson / 2 Albert Cottages / Denmark Road / Coldharbour Lane / Camberwell / London S


28.00cm high
37.00cm wide
(11.02 inches high)
(14.57 inches wide)
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Judge Lushington
Thence by descent

Exhibition History

Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, The Liverpool Academy, 1860, number 294

Description / Expertise

Daniel Alexander Williamson was born in Liverpool to a family of artists. His father Daniel was a landscape painter, his grandfather was John Williamson, and his uncle was Samuel Williamson. He was apprenticed as a draughtsman to a Liverpool cabinetmaker, but preferred painting, and attended life classes in Newman Street, London, where he lived from 1849-1857.

Williamson is the rarest and most visionary of all the Pre-Raphaelite landscape painters from the Liverpool School. In 1861 Williamson left London to return to his native Lancashire to the village of Warton-in-Carnforth. It was there that he continued to paint his works in a pure Pre-Raphaelite manner although he had been using translucent glazes since 1855. Albeit he did not know any of the Pre-Raphaelites personally, he went on regular painting trips with his fellow Liverpool artist, William Lindsay Windus. It was Windus who had first gone to London in 1850 at the suggestion of his most enthusiastic patron, John Miller, to see the Pre-Raphaelites and as a result of that visit they were invited to exhibit at the Liverpool Academy.

Williamson's vision of nature is made all the more intense by the artist's use of Pre-Raphaelite detail combined with strong bright colours which were applied in thin glazes to a white ground. This was the technique developed by the Pre-Raphaelites to give the colours a much greater luminosity and intensity.

The artist's approach to nature in these small but very powerful paintings has been compared by Allan Staley to the overtly visionary works of Samuel Palmer: We do not know if Williamson was aware of Palmer; it seems unlikely. As far as we know, Williamson did paint out of doors directly from nature, and he did intend the pictures as naturalistic studies. These pictures, painted in the early 1860's, represent a late flowering of Pre-Raphaelite naturalism in which the detail, the clarity, and the bright colours have all become the elements of visionary stylization.(1)

In 1904 H.C Marillier wrote: It is recorded that Mr. G.F Watts, Mr. Joseph Israels, and other competent judges have thought very highly of Williamson's work, and place him in the ranks of true genius.(2)

D A Wiliamson moved to Albert Cottages in 1857 and lived there until 1860/1.

1. Allen Staley, The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape, Clarendon Press Oxford 1973, page 148.
2. H. C. Marillier, The Liverpool School of Painters, London, John Murray 1904, page 240.