Williams, William, c.1710–c.1790, American painter, b. England. He probably led a seafaring life before settling (c.1747) in Philadelphia, where he was Benjamin West's first instructor in painting. He designed the building and in 1759 painted scenery for the first Philadelphia theater. After painting in New York City in 1775, Williams probably returned (c.1780) to England. He died in a Bristol almshouse, leaving a partly autobiographical manuscript, The Journal of Llewellin Penrose; this was published in 1815. His richly colored paintings have a lively naïveté and romantic charm; among those known to be his are portraits of Deborah Hall (Brooklyn Mus., N.Y.) and Benjamin Lay (Historical Society of Pennsylvania).
See study by D. H. Dickason (1970).
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