William Frederick Wells

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William Frederick Wells (1762 - 10 Nov 1836) was an English watercolour landscape painter and etcher.

Wells was born in London in 1762. Wells studied art in London under John James Barralet (1747–1815). On 20 November 1804, Wells initiated the founding of the Society of Painters in Watercolours (now the Royal Watercolour Society), at a meeting held at the Stratford Coffee House, Oxford St, London. He served as President of the fledgling association from 1806 to 1807.

He travelled and painted extensively in England and Europe, particularly in Norway and Sweden. Wells' art was annually exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1795 to 1813. He held the post of Professor of Drawing at Addiscombe Military Seminary for officers of the East India Company Army over twenty years from 1813 until his retirement, immediately before his death, in November 1836.[1] Wells was an intimate friend of Joseph Mallord William Turner. Among his works as an etcher are two fine sets in soft ground; Thomas Gainsborough's English Scenery (1819) and Select Views in Cumberland (1810).

In 1819, Wells moved to a house on Mitcham Common, Surrey. He died there on 10 November 1836, and was buried in Mitcham churchyard.

Personal life[edit]

Wells married his wife, Mary, in about 1786. The couple had nine children (three sons and six daughters), of whom two died in infancy. Mary died in 1807. In his will, Wells left the eldest of his sons only 5s., in the hope "that he would see the error of his ways".[2]


  1. ^ Vibart, H. M. (1894). Addiscombe: its heroes and men of note. Westminster: Archibald Constable. pp. 44–45. 
  2. ^ Fenwick 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • Long, B. (1935–6). "William Frederick Wells". Old Water-Colour Society's Club. 13: 1–9.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Fenwick, Simon (2007) [2004]. "Wells, William Frederick (bap. 1764, d. 1836)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29021.  (subscription required)
  • Wheeler, J.M. (1970). The family and friends of William Frederick Wells. privately printed. 
  • Wheeler, J.M. (1971). "William Frederick Wells". Old Water-Colour Society's Club. 46: 9–24. 
  • Wheeler, J.M. (1976). "William Frederick Wells: postscript to the article on Wells that appeared in the 1971 volume". Old Water-Colour Society's Club. 51: 45–7. 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Wells, William Frederick". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.