Benjamin Williams Leader
1831 - 1923Benjamin Williams Leader was born in Worcester in 1831. His father was an engineer in Worcester where Leader spent most of his childhood. He was educated at The Worcester Grammar School and then started a career in engineering, which he soon abandoned to study art at the Worcester School of Design. It was here that he learnt the basic skills of technical draughtsmanship. This apprenticeship along with his love of the Worcestershire countryside led him to submit a painting to the Royal Academy entitled 'Cottage Children Blowing Bubbles'. This was sold for £50 to a Philadelphia Collector much impressed by the talent of this young artist.
Leader derived his artistic inspiration directly from nature and in particular his native countryside of Worcester. After visiting Scotland and Wales, he painted mainly landscapes, often of mountain and river scenes.
In 1857 he changed his name from Benjamin Leader Williams (he was related to the Williams family of painters) to Benjamin Williams Leader. This also helped avoid confusion with the eleven other artists of the same surname who exhibited at the Royal Academy. His picture 'A Stream from the Hills' was commended by Ruskin in 1857, and his work entitled 'Temptation' was purchased by the successful artist, Thomas Creswick, R.A. In 1863 the Prime Minister W E Gladstone bought his painting of 'The Churchyard at Bettws-y-Coed'. As a result of this Leader was flooded with commissions. He spent a great deal of his time during these years painting in Wales, and some of his Welsh landscapes were greatly admired at The Royal Academy and placed beside works by the President, Sir Francis Grant.
Leader's works have been widely collected by Museums and can be seen in Galleries all over the UK.
Exhibited: Royal Academy
Museums: Blackburn, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Victoria & Albert Museum, The Tate Gallery, Manchester, Reading, Sheffield and Melbourne