Benjamin Williams Leader:
British Painter, 1831-1923
was an English artist. Born in Worcester as Benjamin Leader Williams, he was the son of civil engineer Edward Leader Williams (who was also a keen amateur artist and friend of John Constable) and Quaker Sarah Whiting. His brother, also called Edward Leader Williams, followed in his father's footsteps and became a notable civil engineer. The family lived in Worcester at Diglis House. Williams Leader was educated at the Royal Grammar School Worcester and then the Royal Academy Schools. He immediately became successful as an artist and first exhibited his work at the Royal Academy in 1854. Since that year until his death in 1923 his paintings were hung in every summer exhibition at the Royal Academy. He was knighted as Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French in 1889 and was created a full member of the Royal Academy in 1898 (RA - Royal Academician). In 1914 he was given the Freedom of the City of Worcester in recognition of his services (as a director of Royal Worcester Porcerlain and a native of the city). Famous paintings include February Fill Dyke and Autumn's Last Gleam. His paintings were bought by King George V and William Gladstone amongst others, and he became one of the most popular and expensive artists of his day. His works received popular approval for their verisimilitude, and the fame of February Fill Dyke, facilitated by an etching, spread to London, Paris, and the United States.