Watts, William (1752-1851) (DNB00)

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WATTS, WILLIAM (1752–1851), line-engraver, the son of a master silk weaver in Moorfields, was born early in 1752. He received his art training from Paul Sandby [q. v.] and Edward Rooker [q. v.], and on the death of the latter in 1774 he continued the ‘Copper-plate Magazine,’ commenced by him, and published a number of engravings of country seats after Sandby. His own ‘Seats of the Nobility and Gentry,’ a series of eighty-four plates, followed in 1779–86. He sold the furniture and prints in his house at Kemp's Row, Chelsea, and went to Italy, reaching Naples in September 1786. After about a year he returned, and lived at Sunbury, Middlesex. In 1789 he went to Carmarthen, in 1790 to the Hotwells, Bristol, and in 1791 to Bath, where he spent two years. His views of the principal buildings in Bath and Bristol, prepared about this time, were published in 1819. ‘Thirty-six Views in Scotland’ appeared in two parts (1791–4). He was keenly interested in the French revolution, and went to Paris in 1793, where some of his views of English country seats were engraved in colours by Laurent Guyot. He invested most of the property which he had inherited from his father, with his own earnings, in the French funds, and the whole was confiscated, though he recovered a portion at the peace in 1815. His loss compelled him to return to the practice of his profession. He engraved three of the plates in ‘Select Views in London and Westminster’ (1800), and sixty-five coloured plates, from drawings by Luigi Mayer, for Sir Robert Ainstie's ‘Views in Turkey in Europe and Asia’ (1801). Soon after this he retired from his profession, and lived for a short time at Mill Hill, Hendon. In 1814 he purchased a small property at Cobham, Surrey, where he died on 7 Dec. 1851, after having been blind for some years, within a few months of his hundredth birthday.

[Gent. Mag. 1852, i. 420; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; South Kensington Cat. of Books on Art.]

C. D.