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William Pars

(1742—1782) topographical watercolour painter


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(1742–82). English topographical artist. Pars studied and later taught at Shipley's Drawing School in the Strand, London, where his brother Henry (1734–1806) later became principal. In 1764 he was employed by the Society of Dilettanti on Richard Chandler's (1738–1810) archaeological expedition to Asia Minor and Greece. His drawings and watercolours of views and antiquities, like The Theatre at Miletus (c. 1765; London, BM), are accurate and detailed and were later published in Ionian Antiquities (1769) and Antiquities of Athens (1789). In 1770 he was commissioned by Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston (1739–1802), to accompany him to Switzerland to record the landscape. The resulting watercolours, when exhibited at the RA, London, in 1771, were the first record of Alpine scenery to be seen in England. Although geologically correct, paintings like A Bridge near Mont Grimsel (London, BM), with hints of sublimity, prefigure picturesque Romanticism. In 1775 Pars, who was among the first Associates of the RA in 1770, was nominated by the Academy to travel to Rome on a Dilettanti Society bursary. He died there, of pleurisy supposedly caused by standing in water to paint the Falls of Tivoli.

From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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