Painter William Marlow travelled to France and Italy in 1765, on the advice of Elizabeth Percy, Duchess of Northumberland (1716-1776). An obituary of Marlow later reported that eight Marlow landscape views of Italy were in the collection at Alnwick Castle, the Duchess’ country residence, suggesting she may also have sponsored Marlow’s trip. As Marlow travelled through Italy he made drawings which could be used as the basis for oil paintings, when back in his London studio. Marlow exhibited seven views of Florence at the Society of Artists from 1768 to 1783 and also showed one view of the city at the Royal Academy in 1790. He found a strong market for such paintings in the wealthy young aristocrats and gentry, who had recently returned from their ‘Grand Tour’ of France, Italy and sometimes Greece. The route of the Grand Tour inevitably included a trip to see the artistic and architectural sights of Florence. Today, Marlow’s drawings of Florence are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and Leeds City Art Gallery.
Landscapist William Marlow was born in London or Southwark. He trained in the studio of marine painter Samuel Scott in Covent Garden (1756-61) and is also thought to have studied at the St Martin’s Lane Academy. Marlow spent his early career travelling around England in search of subjects; painting English country houses and the areas around Twickenham, Richmond, and the lower banks of the Thames. On the advice of the Duchess of Northumberland he travelled to France and Italy (1765-66). He exhibited at the Society of Artists, becoming Vice-President in 1778, and at the Royal Academy. Marlow lived for a time in Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square). His one pupil was John Curtis. In c.1785 he retired to Twickenham, where he died aged 72.
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