Solomon Williams, Historical and Portrait Painter

(fl. 1777-1824)

Historical and Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was born in Dublin, the son of Richard Williams of 6 Castle Street, afterwards of 16 Grafton Street, goldsmith. He became a pupil in the Dublin Society's School in 1771. In 1777 he sent, from his father's house in Castle Street, to the Society of Artists in William Street, "Impressions of Seals engraved in the course of six months' practice without instruction"; and he again exhibited in 1780 "Impressions of Seals." Soon after this he went to Italy, where he spent some time, visiting Rome and Bologna and making many copies of the works of Titian. At Bologna he was admitted a member of the Clementine Academy. On his return home he remained in Dublin a short time, living in Mary Street and in Paradise Row, and painted in 1789 a portrait of "The King" for the new audience chamber in the Castle, for which he received fifty guineas. He also painted, in the same year, for the Corporation of Dublin, a portrait of the "Marquess of Buckingham, Lord Lieutenant," a copy from a portrait painted by Gainsborough in 1787. Referring to this work the Corporation passed a resolution declaring that they were "happy in having an opportunity of giving their approbation and support to such Irish artists as distinguish their genius and ability in their different arts; and do declare that Mr. Solomon Williams, the artist employed to paint the portrait of the Marquess of Buckingham, has succeeded in a manner that has given entire satisfaction to the Corporation of this city and many excellent judges who have viewed it, and that as a young man of uncommon genius they recommend him to the protection and encouragement of their countrymen."

In 1790 Williams went to London where he remained two years, exhibiting at the Academy in 1791 and 1792. He was back in Dublin in the latter year, and a portrait by him was exhibited at John Ellis's "Museum" in Mary Street, which, says a contemporary notice ("Sentimental and Masonic Magazine," 1792) "evinced his rapid improvement since his residence in London." He returned to London in 1796, and again exhibited in the Academy, as he also did from 1803 to 1806, and at the British Institution in 1807 and 1808. In 1809 he settled permanently in Dublin. In that year he exhibited ten portraits and subject pieces at the Society of Artists in Hawkins Street, and continued to exhibit regularly every year until 1821, contributing nineteen pictures and a miniature in 1817. After the death of Francis Robert West, in 1809, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the mastership of the Figure School of the Dublin Society. On the foundation of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823 he was chosen as one of the original Members, but did not live to take part in its exhibitions. He died in his house in Molesworth Street, on the 2nd August, 1824.

He was father of Richard Williams (q.v.) and of MARY (b. 1788), DEBORAH, ELLEN, or ELEANOR (b. 1790), CHARLOTTE (b. 1804, d. 1846), and EMILY WILLIAMS, who all followed art as a profession, and for many years after their father's death were teachers of drawing in Dublin. While still young girls they exhibited at the Artists' Exhibitions in Dublin in 1817, 1819 and 1821, and afterwards at the Royal Hibernian Academy, where Mary and Eleanor, who survived the others, appeared as late as 1851. They painted chiefly flower pieces and, occasionally, portraits. Their mother, Sarah, died in Holles Street, on 11th August, 1837, aged 65.

Sir William Alexander, Lord Mayor. Burned in the fire at the City Hall, Dublin, 11th November, 1908.

George, 1st Marquess of Buckingham. [Mansion House, Dublin.] A copy, after Gainsborough, painted in 1789.

Duke of Cumberland. Soc. Artists, Dublin, 1811. Presented by the Duke to John Gifford.

Mr. Daniel. R.A., 1803.

Jeremiah D'Olier, his wife and child. Portrait Group. [Isaac D'Olier, Herbert House, Booterstown Avenue.]

King George III. Painted in 1789.

Captain Hardy, R.A., 1806.

Sir William Johnston, Bart. R.A., 1796.

Daniel Mesman. [Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.]

Thomas Pleasants. [Royal Dublin Society, Kildare Street.]

Mrs. William Tighe, née Fownes. [E. K. B. Tighe, Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny.]

John Thomas Troy, Archbp. of Dublin. Soc. Artists, Dublin, 1811.

General Vallancey. [Royal Dublin Society, Kildare Street.]

Mrs. Waddington and child. R.A., 1792.

John Wasdale, M.D. Engraved in mezzotint by E. Bell, 1797.

King William III. [Mansion House, Dublin.] A copy after Kneller.

Figure of an Angel. Copy from Raphael's "Heliodorus."

Group, from Domenichino's "Martyrdom of St. Agnes," at Bologna. Both presented to the R.H.A. by two of the painter's daughters.

The Happy Mother, R.A., 1796.

Sympathy. R.A., 1796.

A Boy and favourite Dog, summer evening. R.A., 1803.

A Girl and favourite Dog, winter's evening. R.A., 1803.

The Maid of Corinth, or the Origin of Painting. R.A., 1804; B.I., 1807.

Painting, under the patronage of Minerva recommended to Mercury. R.A., 1804; B.I., 1807.

Christ on the Mount of Olives. B.I., 1807.

Machiavel. B.I., 1808.

Taking down from the Cross; an altar-piece. Soc. Artists, Dublin, 1811. Painted for a chapel at Wicklow.

Ariadne Meditating. B.I., 1808.

Trial of Algernon Sydney. Soc. Artists, Dublin, 1813.

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