Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Witherington, William Frederick

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WITHERINGTON, WILLIAM FREDERICK (1785–1865), landscape-painter, was born in Goswell Street, London, on 26 May 1785. At school and afterwards in business he cultivated a taste for drawing, and at length, in 1805, became a student at the Royal Academy, though he did not decide till some time later to become a painter by profession. In 1808 he exhibited his first picture, ‘Tintern Abbey,’ at the British Institution, and made his first appearance at the Royal Academy in 1811, with two views of Hartwell, Buckinghamshire. He remained a constant contributor to the Royal Academy exhibitions till the year of his death, sending 138 pictures in all, in addition to sixty-two at the British Institution. He also exhibited for several years in succession at the Birmingham Society of Arts, founded in 1821. His early pictures were principally landscapes, but he varied them with such subjects as ‘Lavinia,’ ‘The Soldier's Wife,’ ‘Sancho Panza,’ and ‘John Gilpin.’ In 1830 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy. He had lived hitherto chiefly in London, but his health failed about this time, and he was compelled to spend several months of each year in the country, chiefly in Kent.

In 1840 he became an academician. Henceforth he employed his renewed health and vigour in painting views in Devonshire, the lake country, Wales, and other parts of England, though Kent was still his favourite county. His pictures are simple unaffected studies of English scenery, varied with incidents of country life, in which the figures are well painted. Two of his best known works, ‘The Hop Garland,’ engraved by H. Bourne, and ‘The Stepping Stones,’ engraved by E. Brandard, were presented to the National Gallery as part of the Vernon collection in 1847, but they are among the pictures temporarily on loan to other galleries. ‘The Hop Garden’ (1834), one of his best works, is in the Sheepshanks collection at the South Kensington Museum. ‘Angling,’ ‘The Beggar's Petition,’ and several other pictures have been engraved. There is a lithograph, ‘The Young Anglers,’ by Witherington himself. He died at Mornington Crescent, London, on 10 April 1865.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Exhibition Catalogues; Times, 15 April 1865.]

C. D.