Artwork of the Day – William Davis


Liverpool artwork of the day – Monday November 12 2007. ‘View from Bidston Hill’ by William Davis in The Walker Art Gallery

Bidston Hill forms the apex of the red sandstone ridge that bisects the Wirral peninsular opposite Liverpool. On its rural west-facing aspect were built several substantial Victorian merchant houses. This view across heathland is towards the Dee Estuary and North Wales with the peak of Moel Famau clearly visible.

A hunter pursues a hare that is running in the scrubby foreground.When shown at the 1865 exhibition of the Liverpool Academy ‘The Liverpool Daily Post’ critic commented that the introduction of such a large hare was an eccentric intrusion.

Davis exploited the picturesque possibilities of Bidston Hill for other paintings. This picture was popular enough for him to have made another version. Both the colouring and paint surface are similar to his earlier ‘Hale’ and closer to the rather high-pitched pigments of David Alexander Williamson’s Morecambe Bay pictures. Davis seems to have taken considerable liberties with the geology of Bidston Hill – replacing sandstone with what seems to be a white limestone.

William Davis (1812-1873), born in Dublin, trained in the Liverpool Academy Schools from 1846 until about 1849 and was Professor of Drawing there from 1856-59. He was one of the Liverpool artists who adopted Pre-Raphaelite practice. Davis was friendly with the Pre-Raphaelite London circle, and was a member of the Hogarth Club. Most of his work was done for local Liverpool patrons. In 1870, he moved to London.

The Walker