William Daniell RA (1769 - 1837)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

William Daniell was the eldest son of William and his wife, who were innkeepers. He was orphaned at an early age and was adopted by his uncle, the renowned landscape-painter Thomas Daniell (1749–1840). At the age of fifteen, Daniell accompanied his uncle on a journey to India, where he acted as the painter’s assistant and made his own sketches of the landscape and cultures he encountered.

Following his return to London in 1794, Daniell began work on the aquatints of Oriental Scenery (1795-1808) based on his experiences in India, a project that occupied him for the next 15 years. Daniell entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1799 and exhibited 168 pictures – mostly landscapes – at the Academy between 1795 and 1838, including views of England, Scotland and India. Over the course of his career, Daniell’s depictions of India shifted away from topographical observation towards ‘Oriental’ fantasy.

Daniell was also a prolific printmaker and produced countless illustrations for historical and travel works and volumes on the natural world. One of his most celebrated works was Voyage round Great Britain (4 vols., 1814-25).

Daniell married Mary Westall, the brother of the artist Richard Westall, in 1801. Daniell was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1807 and a full Member in 1822. He continued to make artworks and exhibit at the Academy until his death in London in 1837.

RA Collections Decolonial Research Project

In the mid-1780s, Daniell accompanied his uncle, the landscape painter Thomas Daniell, to India as his assistant, returning to London in 1794. During this time, the younger Daniell travelled widely, observing and documenting the natural landscape and sites of interest. This period was formative for Daniell and shaped his future career as a painter and draughtsman of ‘exotic’ landscapes.

In 1820, Daniell published Sketches representing the native tribes, animals and scenery of Southern Africa with illustrations that he had engraved after drawings by his late brother Samuel Daniell. The volume treats the indigenous people of the region as scientific specimens to be documented and categorised, in line with Western ethnographic thinking of the time. While William Daniell was not the original creator of the drawings, he engraved them and organised their publication.

Relevant ODNB entries

Eaton, Natasha. “Daniell, William (1769–1837), landscape painter and engraver.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 23 Sep. 2004; Accessed 2 Mar. 2022. https://www-oxforddnb-com.lonlib.idm.oclc.org/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-7127


Royal Academician

Born: 1769 in Chertsey, Surrey, England, United Kingdom

Died: 16 August 1837

Nationality: British

RA Schools student from 2 February 1799

Elected ARA: 2 November 1807

Elected RA: 9 February 1822

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Painting, Printmaking, and Aquatint engraving

Works by William Daniell in the RA Collection

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Works after William Daniell in the RA Collection

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Works associated with William Daniell in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

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