William Williams (1727-1791)

Do you think you may own a panting by William Williams? We perform art authenticationsart appraisalsart research and provide Certificates of Authenticity (COA) as well as consultations, for all paintings by William Williams.

Portrait of a Boy

Portrait of a Boy

William Williams was an American painter during the Colonial era. There is some speculation surrounding his birth and death dates; some say 1710-1790 while others say 1727-1791. Williams had a son, William Joseph Williams (1759-1823), who was also an American painter.

Will Penmorfa

Will Penmorfa

While little details are known about the life of Colonial era Williams, his paintings remain as some of the best examples of American art of their time.

Deborah Hall

Deborah Hall

Williams was born in England and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania around 1747. He later moved to New York City and eventually moved back to England, where he lived in Bristol until his death.

Afternoon View of Coalbrookdale 1777

Afternoon View of Coalbrookdale, 1777

Besides being a painter, Williams was also a novelist and became famous for his book “Penrose”, which is considered to the first American novel. This story about a sailor cast away to the New World is believed to be in part an autobiography, making many art historians believe that he was perhaps a mariner or sailor himself before coming to America.



There is little known about his formal or informal training, though it is likely that his earliest influences were other British artists, and it is very possible that he was self-taught. Williams influenced a number of artists himself both in America and England, including the famous American painter Benjamin West.

Alburbury Castle West, Shropshire

Alburbury Castle West, Shropshire

William Williams, Wiley Family

Wiley Family, 1771, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 47.5 in, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Landscape with a Track and a Man Sitting on a Gate

Landscape with a Track and a Man Sitting on a Gate, Late 1700s, Oil on Paper, 24.9 x 32.9 cm, Ashmolean

Water-bird poised by a river

Water-bird poised by a river, 18th century, Gouache on paper, 34.5 x 25.1 cm, Courtauld Institute of Art

Wooded Landscape with Pack Mule

Wooded Landscape with Pack Mule, Pencil and Watercolor with Gum Arabic, 29.1 x 43.7 cm, Norfolk Museums

David Hall

David Hall (portrait), Oil on Canvas, WinterthurMuseum

William Williams, Gentleman and Wife

Gentleman and Wife, Oil on Canvas, Winterhur Museum

William Hall

William Hall, Oil on Canvas, Winterhur Museum

Still wondering about a British or American landscape or portrait hanging in your family’s estate? Contact us…we are the William Williams experts.