The landscape artist Charles Frederick Williams was born in Ottery St Mary in 1810 and most of his early life was spent in the West Country. After leaving school he became an art teacher and drawing instructor in Exeter. He also became a favourite pupil of the great artist David Cox, and for sixteen years the two went on sketching tours to north Wales. Williams painted mainly landscapes and coastal scenes, particularly in south Devon. His work was admired by the art critic John Ruskin and he exhibited seven pictures at the Royal Academy, including Fishing Boats at Beer in 1861 and Beach at Beer Devon, Looking East.

From 1858 he lived in Southampton and from 1859, advertising himself in local directories as a professor of drawing. His initial address was 3 Portswood Park, Bevois Hill, but the 1861 census has him living at 8 Park Place with Elizabeth Traies, a native of Baltimore, USA. Directories of the 1860s list him in Bedford Place. The last 25 years of his life he lived at Bath Cottage just off Bursledon Road in Bitterne. In 1881 Elizabeth Traies is still living with him and is listed as an invalided schoolmistress and secretary. By 1891 she had become his wife.

On his death in 1891 his collection of 123 paintings passed first to his wife, and when she died four days later, to his sister and brother-in-law, who in turn donated them to Southampton Library Committee. They are now in Southampton Art Gallery.


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