William   James   Mülleralso   (Müller)

(28 June 1812 - 8 September 1845)


William James Mülleralso (spelled Müller), English landscape and figure painter, the best-known artist of the Bristol School.

Müller was born at Bristol, the son of J. S. Müller, a Prussian from Danzig, curator of the Bristol museum. He first studied painting under James Baker Pyne. His early pictures were mostly of the scenery of Gloucestershire and Wales, and he learned much from his study of Claude, Ruysdael, and earlier landscape-painters. In 1833, he exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time, showing "Destruction of Old London Bridge - Morning". The next year he made a tour through France, Switzerland and Italy.

In 1838, he visited Athens, and travelled onwards to Alexandria and Cairo, where he spent two weeks before continuing up the Nile to Luxor, where he made drawings of the ruins and landscapes before returning to Cairo in mid-January. Shortly after his return he left Bristol and settled in London, where he exhibited regularly. His scenes of Egyptian streets and market proved especially popular. In 1840, he again visited France, where he executed a series of sketches of Renaissance architecture, twenty-five of which were lithographed and published in 1841, in a folio entitled The Age of Francis I. of France.

In 1843, at the request of the archaeologist Charles Fellows - but at his own expense - Müller and his pupil Harry Johnson accompanied the government expedition to Lycia. He spent three months sketching the landscape and local people around Xanthus, Pinara and Tlos. He spent most of the rest of his life, after his return to England, working on watercolours, and a few oils, of Lycian subjects.

He died at Bristol on 8 September 1845. Following his death, his work was in great demand; leading to the production of a considerable number of fakes. A biography by Nathaniel Neal Solly was published in 1875.

Muller is buried in the Unitarian burial ground, Brunswick Cemetery, off Brunswick Square, Bristol. His grave is marked by a simple polished black stone slab inscribed Sacred to the memory of William James Muller who died Sep 8th 1845 Aged 35 years. His age, as given in the inscription is contrary to the burial records which record it as 33. The current tomb stone may be relatively modern, as the grave was recorded as being unmarked on a 1970s survey. A bust of the painter is located at the entrance to the cloister in Bristol Cathedral.

The British Museum possesses, through the bequest of John Henderson, a rich collection of Müller's sketches. Biographies of Müller have been written by Solly (1875), © Bunt (1948) and © Greenacre and Stoddard (1991).

William James Müller, Muller's sketches of the age of Francis the First, 26 large and fine tinted drawings on stone of splendid Architecture and Picturesque Old Buildings in France (H. Graves, 1841)

Nathaniel Neal Solly, Memoir of the life of William James Müller, a native of Bristol, landscape and figure painter: with original letters and an account of his travels and of his principal works (London: Chapman & Hall, 1875); Cyril George Eduard Bunt, The Life and Art of William James Müller of Bristol (Leigh-on-Sea: E. Lewis, 1948); Francis Greenacre & Sheena Stoddard, W.J. Müller, 1812-1845; (Friends of Bristol Art Gallery for Bristol Museums and Art Gallery, 1991); William James Müller 1812-1845: Exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Müller's birth held at the City Art Gallery Bristol October 18 - November 24th 1962, (City & County of Bristol, 1962); William Müller, 1812-1845: Tate Gallery, 12 November 1984-31 March, 1985 (Tate Gallery, 1984); Texts on Wikisource: "Müller, William John"; The American Cyclopædia, 1879. This work has an anomalous theory on his death; Baynes, T. S., Smith, W.R., eds. (1884); "Müller, William James",Encyclopaedia Britannica, 17 (9th ed.). James Charles Mathew (1894), Müller, William John; Lee, Sidney, Dictionary of National Biography 39. London: Smith, Elder & Co.; "Muller, William John". New International Encyclopedia, 1905, Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920), Muller, William James, Encyclopedia Americana. Attribution: This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "Müller, William James", Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.).



WILLIAM JAMES MÜLLER, (1812-1845), English landscape and figure painter, was born at Bristol on the 28th of June 1812, his father, a Prussian, being curator of the museum. He first studied painting under J. B. Pyne. His early subjects deal mainly with the scenery of Gloucestershire and Wales, and he learned much from his study of Claude, Ruysdael, and earlier landscape-painters. In 1833, he figured for the first time in the Royal Academy with his “Destruction of Old London Bridge -- Morning” and next year he made a tour through France, Switzerland and Italy. Four years later he visited Athens, extending his travels to Egypt, and in the sketches executed during this period and the paintings produced from them his power and individuality are apparent. Shortly after his return he left Bristol and settled in London, where he exhibited regularly. In 1840, he again visited France, where he executed a series of sketches of Renaissance architecture, twenty-five of which were lithographed and published in 1841, in a folio entitled The Age of Francis I. of France. In 1843, he accompanied, at his own request and his own charges, the government expedition to Lycia, where he made a number of masterly sketches. He died at Bristol on the 8th of September 1845. The print room of the British Museum possesses, through the bequest of Mr John Henderson, a rich collection of Müller's sketches. A biography by N. Neal Solly was published in 1875.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 18, 1911




William James, Müller, an English landscape and figure painter, was born at Bristol in 1812; his father, of German extraction, was curator of the Bristol Museum, and from him he acquired a taste for science, especially botany and natural history. He was at first designed for an engineer, but his predilection for art soon made itself manifest. From J. B. Pyne he received the primary instructions in painting; and in 1833, he for the first time exhibited at the Royal Academy, his picture being "The Destruction of Old London Bridge -- Morning". Soon after he made the tour of Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, studying from nature, and hence his works bear the impress of originality in a greater degree than those of most modern landscape painters. On his return to his native city he pursued his profession, but with very partial success. In 1838, he visited Greece and Egypt, enriching his portfolio with a large number of sketches of the most interesting objects. About the end of 1839, he settled in London, where his pictures found ready purchasers. Two years afterwards he published Picturesque Sketches of the Age of Francis I., which extended his fame beyond his own country. He next, in 1843, at his own expense, joined the expedition to Lycia, projected by the government, and from the valuable sketches he made there, produced the pictures which were exhibited at the Royal Academy and British Institution during the last three years of his life. Of the treatment his work received at both places he complained with bitterness, and it must be admitted, with justice. In 1836-37-38, he also sent pictures to the Suffolk Street Exhibitions. In 1845, Müller left London for Bristol for the benefit of his health; but his strength gradually failed, and he died on the 8th September of that year of disease of the heart. At the sale of his oil pictures, finished and unfinished, and of the series of sketches made by him in Lycia (which took place in the following year), competition to possess them was extreme: the sketches sold at prices varying from £20. to £60. for each, and the total amount of the three days' sale was about £4600. These were not factitious prices, for the dealers reaped a rich harvest by the purchases they made at the sale. In 1875, his Memoir was brought out, by the pen of Nathaniel Neal Solly, and his works have greatly increased in value since. Müller is very scantily represented in public collections. In the National Gallery there are a fine Welsh landscape and a clever Lycian sketch, both in oil. In the South Kensington Museum there are eight of his water-colour drawings.

Bryans dictionary of painters and engravers Vol 3, 1904



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