William Hamilton RA (1751 - 1801)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Born in Chelsea, West London, in 1751, Hamilton spent time studying in Italy before entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1769. Although he had previously studied architectural draughtsmanship, he chose to pursue painting at this time. He exhibited four paintings at the Royal Academy in 1774, and by 1789 was elected as a Royal Academician. In the early part of his career, Hamilton focused on portraitur but he later began to paint subjects from poetry, history and the Bible.

Hamilton was also employed by print galleries to illustrate popular themes and literature. His representations of Shakespearean scenes were not well-received but his rural scenes were fashionable. Perhaps the most popular of these were his illustrations to James Thomson’s The Seasons (1730). This poem describes rural Britain and reflects on the role nature plays as an intermediary between Heaven and Earth. Hamilton’s illustrations, such as The Monarch Swain were published in 1797 engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi RA and P.W. Tomkins. There is a copy of the book in the Royal Academy Library.


Royal Academician

Born: 1751 in London, England, United Kingdom

Died: 2 December 1801

Nationality: British

RA Schools student from 14 February 1769

Elected ARA: 8 November 1784

Elected RA: 10 February 1789

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Painting and Illustration

Works by William Hamilton in the RA Collection

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Works after William Hamilton in the RA Collection

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Works associated with William Hamilton in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

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