Evans, William (1798-1877) (DNB00)

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EVANS, WILLIAM (1798–1877), water-colour painter, born at Eton on 4 Dec. 1798, was son of Samuel Evans, a landscape-painter of repute, who originally lived in Flintshire, but subsequently came from Wales and settled at Windsor. Here he was selected to teach drawing to the daughters of George III, and eventually became drawing-master at Eton College, where he settled. There are some views of North Wales and Windsor by him which have been engraved. He left Eton about 1818 for Droxford, Hampshire, where he died about 1835.

William Evans was appointed by Dr. Keate drawing-master in his father's place in 1818. He was educated at Eton, and had originally studied medicine, but eventually turned to art, and became a pupil of William Collins, R.A. [q. v.] He was elected an associate of the Old Society of Painters in Water-colours on 11 Feb. 1828, in which year he exhibited drawings of Windsor, Eton, Thames fishermen, Barmouth, and Llanberis, and on 7 June 1830 he was elected a member of the society. He continued to be a constant contributor to their exhibitions. His art was not marked by any great originality, but had much vigour and brilliance about it. He made some large drawings of the Eton ‘Montem,’ which were engraved, and are now in the possession of Lord Braybrooke. Evans continued to teach drawing at Eton until 1837, when his wife died, and he made up his mind to move to London. At that time the oppidans at Eton still continued to be lodged in houses kept by ladies, known as ‘dames,’ a system which was in great need of reform, and which placed the boys under little or no control. It being Dr. Hawtrey's wish to place the boarding-houses under the charge of men connected with the work of the school, the Rev. Thomas Carter, the Rev. Edward Coleridge, and the Rev. George Selwyn (afterwards bishop of New Zealand) persuaded Evans to take one of these houses and retain his former position as drawing-master. This Evans did in 1840, working with great energy. He built the house, the name of which still continues to be a household word among Etonians, and the Eton of the present day may be said, to a certain extent, to date from the constitution of Evans's house. Among the most useful reforms introduced by him and Selwyn may be instanced that of ‘passing’ in swimming before a boy is allowed to go upon the river at all. Evans died, after some years' ill-health, at Eton on New Year's eve, 1877. He was succeeded in the post of drawing-master to the school by his son, Samuel T. G. Evans, also a member of the Society of Painters in Water-colours, and in the management of the boarding-house by his daughter, Miss Jane Evans.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Ottley's Dict. of Recent and Living Painters; Art Journal, 1878, p. 76; information from S. T. G. Evans.]

L. C.