William Wells (1768 - 1847)
William Wells (1768–1847), a ship-builder of Redleaf in Kent, built up a distinguished collection of watercolours and drawings that was dispersed at a sale after his death at Christie’s in January 1857. Seven of the ten watercolours sold in 1857 have been identified, including two fine late works, Sandsend (TG1702), from 1802, and Morpeth Bridge (TG1709). These were almost certainly acquired in the immediate aftermath of Girtin’s death as the accounts of the artist’s brother, John Girtin (1773–1821), include the record of a receipt from ‘Mr Wells’ for eight guineas dated 13 December 1802 – that is, a few weeks after the artist’s decease (Chancery, Income and Expenses, 1804). The financial records of John Girtin covering the income he received from the sale of the contents of his brother's studio and from sales of the twenty aquatints of the Picturesque Views in Paris are transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1804 – Item 1). Wells also paid five guineas for a proof set of Girtin’s Paris aquatints at the same time. Wells was one of a group of Girtin’s patrons who lived in close proximity in Kent, including Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837) and Elizabeth Weddell (1749–1831); they certainly knew each other and it may be that they encouraged each other’s support of the artist (Morris, 2002a, p.257).