HAVELL, William

1782 - 1857

William Havell

William Havell was born in Reading, Berkshire on 9 February 1782, but not baptised until 17 October 1787, one of the many children of Luke Havell (1752-1810), a drawing master and shopkeeper, and his wife Charlotte née Phillips (1759-1825), who married at St Lawrence Parish Church, Reading on 19 February 1778. William was educated at Reading Grammar School, where his father taught art, but was mostly a self-taught landscape painter, making his first sketching tours in Wales and the Wye Valley 1802-1803, when he met his future artist friends, the Varleys and Cristalls. In 1804 sent his first exhibit to the Royal Academy 'A View of Carnarvon Castle' and the following year was a founder member of the Old Society of Painters in Watercolours from which he resigned. He then went to live at Ambleside, in the Lake District 1807-1809 where he produced many fine works. Havell accepted the post of official artist to the embassy of China led by William Pitt, Earl Amherst of Arracan (1773-1857) to the Chinese Emperor Jiaqing (1760-1820), which set out in 1816. It is unclear whether Havell accompanied Amherst to Peking or remained with the ships at the Grand Canal of the Hai River near Tongzhou, he was able to sketch the Chinese countryside on the return route overland. Leaving his position with the Embassy, in 1817 he travelled overland to Calcutta where he remained until leaving from Bombay in January 1826, finding employment in painting portraits and landscapes. On his return to England in 1827, he rejoined the Watercolour Society but did not exhibit and took to painting in oils. He then travelled to Italy with Thomas Uwins (17821857), visiting Florence, Rome and Naples. Havell's best landscapes are of his native Reading and the Thames Valley but during his Italian stay he broadened his subject manner to include such things a peasant bringing in the grape harvest. A frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy and at the British Institution and exhibited at the Suffolk Fine Arts Association at the New Lecture Rooms, Ipswich in 1850 'Mountain Scene. The Sun Dispersing the Mist'. Owing to the failure his Indian bank he became a pensioner on the Royal Academy's Turner Fund. William Havell died at Kensington, London on 16 December 1857.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from 13 Poland Street, London
1806 160 Winchester Tower, Windsor
         502 The Saw-pit

Works by This Artist