Landscape painter and engraver.
Eldest son of William Daniell (d. 1779), an innkeeper, and his wife, Sarah. He was the nephew of the landscape painter, Thomas Daniell (1749-1840).
William Daniell was one of the foremost landscape artists of the early C19th. He acquired his expertise in art, and specifically aquatint engraving, whilst apprenticed to his uncle, Thomas Daniell (1749-1840), a renowned artist in his own right and pioneer in the development of the aquatint process in Britain.
Orphaned at an early age, William was adopted by his uncle and at about fifteen accompanied him to India where from 1785-1794 he worked as his assistant. He kept an extensive diary of their travels in India (1786-93) that reveals his own sketching strategies and his assistance in the finishing of his uncle's sketches and oil paintings, as well as details of Indian flora and fauna. Although departing on the tour as master and apprentice, by their return the Daniells were ostensibly partners, William having spent the years abroad receiving tuition and honing his artistic skills.
On their return to London in 1794 the Daniells spent the next fifteen years working on the aquatints of Oriental Scenery (1795-1808), which is widely regarded as one of the quintessential artistic depictions of the subcontinent in the C18th. Oriental Scenery, was, in fact, a project involving six series of aquatints (of 24 prints each). The Daniells used sepia and bluish grey for printing, and stained the prints so as to replicate the effects of their original watercolours; colourists were only employed to add small touches to figures or foreground foliage. This project was followed by another collaboration with his uncle – Voyage to India by Way of China (1810).
Portrait of William Daniell, c. 1800?
pencil, pen and ink and wash on wove paper, 205 X 157 mm
By Richard Westall
Source: Royal Academy of Arts, London