button to main menu   William Green: 1790's-1820's and Biography
person:- William Green
role:- artist; surveyor; engraver
born 25.8.1760 - Manchester, Lancashire
died 1823 - Ambleside, Lakes
William Green, surveyor, artist and engraver; born Manchester, 1760; surveyor, worked with William Yates, Lancashire and others, 1776-1779, and on his own account 1780-1790s; artist and engraver, taught in Machester, 1780s-90s, then worked in London, 1796-99; lived and worked as artist, engraver and publisher in Ambleside, Westmorland from 1800; died 1823, buried at Grasmere, Westmorland.

William Green, Artist
William Green was born in Manchester, 25 August 1760, son of Joshua Green and his wife Catherine Simpson; Catherine died a few days later, 25 September 1760. Joshua was a school master and writing master, living at 3 Windmill Street, Lad Lane, Deansgate, Manchester. William was taught at home by his father and later attended the mathematical school, in Salford, of Dr Henry Clarke, who also taught drawing, perspective and probably surveying.
In 1776-77 William Green worked with Christopher Wooodroofe, a local surveyor, and then from 1778 with William Yates doing the field work for the north part of Lancashire, for William Yates's one inch map, The County Palatine of Lancaster, "surveyed by Willm. Yates Engraved by Thos. Billinge 1786. When the map was published it was noted that:-
... subscribers may be supplied also by Mr. Green who was an assistant in this work ...
In his Tourists' New Guide, 1819, William Green mentions:-
The writer being engaged by Mr. Yates of Liverpool in his survey of Lancaster made Ulverston his primary station for that part of the county which is north of the Sands and here he had the happiness to be noticed by Mr. West who with a fatherly care not only tempered his wild feelings, but taught him how to see and appreciate the lovely wilds of Furness. Were a county-surveyor at the same time landscape draftsman, how great must be his advantages, for traversing every road and climbing every mountain, scenes must be presented to his eye which would rarely be discovered by a professional artist. The writer was encouraged to the pursuit of painting by Mr. West, but why he knows not, his few sketches were humble, his mind untutored and he knew none of the requisite theories, but geometry, perspective and architecture.
WARTON CRAG was one of Mr. Yates's primary stations for his survey of Lancashire, and from this place the writer angled to all the surrounding country.
In 1779-80:-
... he is returned from finishing the survey of the County of Lancaster for Wm. Yates, of Liverpool, and therefore at leisure to pursue his own employment of measuring and planning estates ... His terms of land survey and planning are: Estate measuring and mapping 1/- per square acre, measuring land for the content only, six pence per statute acre; for finishing any old plan of estate in the new method, six pence per statute acre, and six pence for every mile the estate lies distant from Manchester (as it is necessary to inspect every field, as Plowed, Pasture, and meadow are differently distinguished, as likewise the fences, whether hedges, walls, cops, dykes, or pales, as likewise hilly ground, etc.; levelling, dividing, etc. according to the time and trouble). ...
From 1783 he taught drawing and painting. An advertisement, 1786:-
... informing the Public, that he has opened a school for ladies at his house at 2 Brazenose Street, in drawing, writing and account, ladies and gentlemen instructed at home and boarding schools attended as usual. ...
About 1787 he set out to produce a plan of Manchester at 40 or 50 yards to an inch, say 40 inches to 1 mile. After 5 years work he was forestalled by a less careful plan at 17 inches to 1 mile by Charles Laurent who had come north to make a map for a book about the history of the Machester area. William Green's map at 60 yards to one inch, say 29 inches to 1 mile, on nine sheets, is excellent, but did not sell well in competition with the other map which was produced in a hurry and has many inaccuracies. Only 400 of the planned 600 copies sold, and copies were still being offered from Ambleside in 1819.
During the 1790s William Green had visited The Lakes and Wales, 'among the beauties of landscape nature'. Prints from this period appear in a:-
including 48 acquatint views in the Lake District, published by William Green, 3 Lad Lane, Manchester
From 1796 to 1800 William Green was in London, painting in watercolour, and print making, engravings, etchings, acquatints, mezzotints. He married Ann Bamford, and his first child, Elizabeth, was born in London, 7 April 1799. In 1800 the family moved to Ambleside, Westmorland.
The manner of London artists had not been to his taste; he comments on this in the preface to a Description of Sixty Studies from Nature, 1810:-
... the different modes in which different landscape painters have been taught, and taught themselves to see nature, as it is termed ... yet nature is invariable, ... fully sensible of his [WG's] own defects as an artist, arising in a degree from causes connected with the foregoing observations, the writer settled in Ambleside, in the year 1800, with a view to remedy his errors. The object which had been unceasingly pursued for the last ten years had been to divest himself, as much as possible, of manner, and to adhere as faithfully as possible to nature. ...
In his guide book, 1819, he comments:-
... The writer, not only for visual gratification, but for study, prefers Ambleside, ...
... When the writer was in Ambleside in the year 1778 [when surveying for William Yates] its appearance was not only antiquated, but highly picturesque ...
He took a cottage opposite the Red Lion in the Market Place, the place was a busy studio where he mixed his own colours, painted, etched, engraved, aquatinted, day and night. Hartley Coleridge, in an essay, Ignoramus on Fine Art, 1851:-
... with no better patrons than the mutable public of lakers, his spirit never flagged, his hand and eye were never idle, and he had a healthy love for his employment such as none but an honest man could understand. ...
... No height or hollow of Helvellyn, no bay or bosky cape in Winander's sinuous length, no shy recess, nor brook, nor fairy waterfall, in all the hills, but there he oft had been - no idle gazer, but indefatigable with book and pencil.
and he sold well, much from his annual exhibitions, to visitors as well as locally.
In 1816 he bagan work on a guide book. This was published 1819, a
which William Wordsworth termed a complete magazine of minute and accurate information. The guide contains remarks on his thinking, as an artist:-
It is nearly nineteen years since the author settled himself in Ambleside, and during that interval he has, annually spent a considerable portion of his time in out-door study, and in the consequent collection of many hundred coloured and pencil drawings, all entirely finished while the subject was before him, for he conceives that studies are lessened in value by being retouched in the house.
All the above sketches of mouldering stones, refectory and all, have long since been turned into bread, ... Brethren, blame not the artist, - if a man cannot live by his trade, he must sell such of his tools as he can best spare - the author would sell the accumulated and progressive study of seventeen past summers, to be enabled to draw and paint out of doors in all seasonable weather for three successive years from the present time.
He had plans for further works, but. The family Bible has, in his wife's handwriting:-
my beloved husband died after a lingering illness on 29 April 1823 at 18 minutes past 4 o'clock in the morning, & was buried 3 May 1823, if he would have lived to the 25 August he would have been 63 years old.
William Green was buried at Grasmere. His epitaph was written by William Wordsworth:-

Roeder, Charles: 1897: William Green, the Lake Artist: Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society: vol.14: pp.2-31
Burkett, Mary E & Sloss, J D G: 1984: William Green of Ambleside; a Lake District Artist: Abbot Hall Art Gallery (Kendal, Westmorland):: ISBN 0 9503335 4 9
Hall, Marshall: : Artists of Cumbria: Marshall Hall Associates:: ISBN 0 903858 01 0