About this artwork

This very detailed watercolour shows the harbour at Alloa, a small town on the north bank of the River Forth. Williams's choice of subject was perhaps not incidental, for Alloa was the birthplace of his former drawing master, David Allan. This painting, of about 1825, illustrates the beginnings of industrial production in Scotland. The cone-shaped structures in the background were part of the Alloa glassworks. Williams included extraordinary detail, using his pen for fine elements such as wood planking and boat rigging, and dabs of colour to enhance smaller elements such as the boatmen's clothing. Williams made this picture on the spot, but he must have intended to develop it later, as he inscribed the sheet with detailed colour notes.

Hugh William Williams

Hugh William Williams

H.W. Williams was a pupil of the artist David Allan, whose influence can be seen in the quality of his draughtsmanship. Williams was primarily a landscape painter. His friend and fellow artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner, both influenced and admired him. In 1817, Williams traveled to Italy and Greece where he painted the varied landscapes. A decade later, he published Select Views of Greece (1827-29), which earned him the nickname 'Grecian Williams'. He was closely involved in the plans to establish the Scottish Academy (now the Royal Scottish Academy) in Edinburgh in 1826. Williams was one of the few nineteenth century Scottish watercolour painters to find a market for his work in London.