Sidney Richard Percy was one of the six brothers of the famous Williams family. Born in London, he moved to Barnes in 1846. His very early work was signed ‘Sidney Williams’ but at the age of 20 he adopted the use of ‘Percy’, the name under which his paintings were to achieve a greater popularity than that of any other member of the Williams family.
Percy was predominantly a landscape painter, and the countryside around the family’s home in Barnes provided him with plentiful material for his early work. As his career progressed, he was increasingly drawn towards the more dramatic environments of Wales, Devon, Yorkshire, the Lake District, and Scotland. He also travelled abroad, visiting Venice, Switzerland and Paris in 1865.
Percy’s most successful period took place after his marriage in 1857 and his move to Buckinghamshire in 1863. Having already had a painting bought by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria, (a landscape in North Wales, still hanging in Osborne House) demand for his work was high, and he lived an opulent life. His paintings were highly-detailed, and he had his greatest success painting landscapes of grazing cattle, typically set against backgrounds of distant mountains and cloudy skies. The prevailing hues of his landscapes are earth tones and soft greens, accentuated by a variety of pastel hues.
Percy exhibited for over 40 years between 1842 and 1886 at the Royal Academy, the British Institution and the Royal Society of British Artists, Suffolk Street. After the death of his two elder children he moved to Surrey, firstly to Redhill and then to Sutton, where he died after a riding accident.
His work can be seen in many collections across the world, including the Royal Collection, the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, the York City Art Gallery and
the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada.