William Oram Active by 1737 – died 1777
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William Oram Active by 1737 – died 1777

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A wooded landscape with a view of classical ruins


Oil painting on canvas 36.5 x 53.5 inches and contained within its exceptional original carved and gilded English “Carlo Maratta” frame.


Signed lower left corner – the only recorded signed landscape by the artist


Provenance: Painted for the Duke of Leeds, Hornby Castle, and thence by descent to the Lady Camilla Osborne by whose trustees sold 2004

William Oram was trained as an architect, but later turned to landscape painting in the Classical tradition deriving ultimately from Gaspar Poussin and, more immediately, John Wootton and George Lambert. He was an occasional landscape topographer on copperplate, producing a view of Datchet Bridge on the Thames.

Through the influence of Sir Edward Walpole he was appointed Master Carpenter to the Board of Works from May 1748 until his demise on 17th March 1777. In this role he designed the Triumphal Arch for the coronation of George III in Westminster Hall on 22nd September (design engraved by Anthony Walker). His book Precepts and Observations on the art of Colouring in Landscape Painting was published in 1810 after his death by his kinsman Charles Clarke FSA. His son, Edward Oram, was also a landscape painter who worked as a landscapist and theatrical scene-painter, and was also an assistant to Loutherbourg.

This seems to be the only recorded signed painting by William Oram, though there are documented murals at Buckingham Palace (in Sir William Chamber’s Saloon) painted for Queen Charlotte.


Comparative illustration


Plate taken from Oram’s Precepts and Observations on the art of Colouring in Landscape Painting illustrating the artist’s style (close to the present work) which derives from the genotype of Nicholas Poussin.