William Anderson British, 1757-1837

Little is known about William Anderson’s artistic training before 1787, when he moved from Scotland to London and exhibited several paintings at the Royal Academy. His style shows the influence of the Dutch masters, and like them he sometimes painted on wood panel to create the smoothest possible surface. He collaborated with his friend Julius Caesar Ibbetson (1759–1817) on many works, and is best known for his small marine paintings of ships in a calm.


Anderson’s early life is regarded obscure, but before moving to London, he is known to have trained as a shipwright to get the skillset of becoming a maritime painter at the age of 30. His training as a shipwright helped a lot in turning him to be a dexterous maritime painter by instilling in him the “practical nautical knowledge” of his subjects. William Anderson is well respected for his comprehensive and unerring portraits of ships under sail, exhibiting his majority of the portraiture annually in London between 1787 and 1811 and then occasionally until 1834.


Anderson marked other artists with his influence, substantially John Ward and others of the Hull school. It is known that his best work was brought to the execution in the years 1790-1810 during the French Revolution and Napoleon wars, a time when Naval ships played a pivotal role, and henceforth their demand of sketches and paintings were at peak.


Nevertheless, his paintings were not only restricted to ships and marine subjects but included an exhibit in 1822 of a portrait expounding the Battle of Waterloo. Like other artists, Anderson maritime paintings based on incidents and wars were bought by individuals who had a standing lifestyle and were able to buy the masterpieces of Anderson. This nonetheless depicts the worth put in by Anderson in his art gallery. Anderson is known to have worked both in oils and watercolours.


He was influenced by the Dutch painters and therefore the lovers of art can see his style based on well-known Dutch maritime painters of 17th century. His works are mostly executed at a small size and put forth the scenes of shipping on rivers. Anderson’s works that shown in exhibition encompass “A  of Berwick-on-Tweed“ and “A View of Tynemouth.” Paintings he made pertaining to historical incidents include “The Battle of Waterloo”, “The Capture of Fort Louis”, and “Martinique.” Other paintings include “Firing a Salute”, “Limehouse Reach With Greenwhich Beyond”, “Rowing On A Thames”, “Shipping On The Thames” et al. In a nutshell, he pictured the happenings of 18th century through art and paintings that still resonates in art galleries around the world.