Benjamin Williams Leader

Benjamin Williams Leader, English landscape painter
Benjamin Williams Leader was an English landscape painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born Benjamin Leader Williams, but later changed his name to Benjamin Williams Leader to stand out from a number of other painters active at the same time with the last name of Williams.

Benjamin Leader’s father, Edward Leader Williams, was an amateur artist and a friend of John Constable, and Benjamin got to go out sketching with Constable, though I don’t know that there was any formal guidance on Constable’s part.

As a young man, Leader studied part time at the Worcester School of Design, and later enrolled in the Royal Academy. His early work proved so popular with influential buyers that he didn’t bother to finish his studies at the Academy.

Leader often painted on location, and his work was initially inspired in part by the fidelity to nature espoused by the Pre-Raphaelite painters. As his style matured, however, he moved toward a looser, more painterly approach that proved to be even more popular with his patrons.


Eye Candy for Today: Anders Zorn portrait of Freida Schiff

Portrait of Frieda Schiff, Anders Zorn
Frieda Schiff, Anders Zorn

In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Given the relatively weak greens in the curtain and background, I suppose it’s possible this was painted with Zorn’s famously eponymous palette.

The “Zorn Palette”, with which the Swedish artist is presumed to have painted many (though certainly not all) of his paintings, consisted of Ivory Black, Vermillion, Flake White and Yellow Ochre. It is essentially a portrait palette, and Zorn’s effective use of it is a testament to the power of a limited palette.

The seemingly casual but astonishingly effective brush strokes in the dress are indicative of Zorn’s position as one of the “masters of the loaded brush”, a short list that also includes John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla (I would personally add Cecilia Beaux to that list, but hey, that’s just me).