Benjamin Williams Leader (1831-1923)
A prominent landscape & coastal painter, he was born Benjamin Leader Williams but took the surname Leader to distinguish himself from the many members of the Williams family to whom he was not related. He was born in Worcester, where his father was an engineer, & where Leader spent most of his childhood. He was educated at The Worcester Grammar School and then started a career in engineering, which he soon abandoned to study art at the Worcester School of Design. Leader derived his artistic ideas directly from nature. Scotland and Wales also provided great sources of inspiration. His picture, 'A Stream from the Hillsí was commended by Ruskin in 1857, and his work entitled 'Temptation' was purchased by the successful artist, Thomas Creswick, RA. In 1863 the Prime Minister W.E. Gladstone bought his painting of 'The Churchyard at Bettws-y-Coed', and as a result Leader was flooded with commissions. He spent a great deal of his time during these years painting in Wales. His work can be found in many important collections. He married Mary Eastlake Leader, and was father of the painter Benjamin Eastlake Leader. He exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Oil Painters & elsewhere.