Born in Reading, William Havell was a member of a large artistic family, primarily of printers. He made his first sketching tours to Wales and the Wye Valley in 1802 and 1803. In 1805, he became a founder member of the Old Watercolour Society. In 1816, Havell sailed for China with Lord Amherst’s Embassy, visiting Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, the Cape and Java. He later travelled to Calcutta and stayed in India for eight years, working as a watercolour portrait painter. He returned to England in 1827 but in the following year left for Italy, where he remained until the spring of 1829. After again returning to England, he painted landscapes in oil. Havell’s best landscapes are of his native Reading and the Thames valley.
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