William R. Davis

Born in 1952, Bill Davis grew up on Cape Cod during a time when the Cape was a much quieter summer vacation land. At 10 years old, he took sailing lessons at the Hyannis Port Yacht learning to sail Beetle cats and other local built wooden boats. At 14, he started working at the Hyannis Theater and continued there until 1970. He attended Barnstable High School and was always found in the art rooms. After High School graduation and a year attending Cape Cod Community College, Bill went to work for his father’s Heating & Air conditioning Company. In the late 70’s, he returned to painting at night after work. In 1978 he started selling his paintings to local builders and folks in Hyannis Port. By 1982 he made the switch to painting full time. In 1982, Bill had his first show at Richard Bourne Company, along with an artist friend, Elizabeth Mumford. The show was well received and attended by Lee Remick and Jackie Onassis. This was the beginning of a very long list of shows all over the country.

In 1987, Bill made history with the first One-Man Show ever held at the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. All twenty of the works featured in that show were sold at the opening reception. In 1993, “Calm Day off Latimer’s Reef” appeared on the cover of the Gallery’s calendar, The Art of the Sea. Three of his paintings were also used in Shipwrecks around Boston by noted Cape Cod author, William P. Quinn. Rockport Publishers has included Boston Harbor at Sunset in a new book entitled, A Gallery of Marine Art. He has also been included in the latest edition of E.H.H. Archibald’s authoritative volume on Marine Art from the Flemish Masters to the Present. In the September 1992 issue of Soundings, former Maritime Gallery Director, J. Russell Jinishian, described Davis by saying “His work evokes the gentility and natural beauty of the 19th century, a time we look back on with some nostalgia as it was a time less complicated and more civilized”. In April 2001, his work was illustrated on the cover of American Artist Magazine along with an in depth article about his work. Cape Cod Life Collector’s Edition named Davis as one of the Top 400 most influential, famous, and intriguing people on Cape Cod. Additionally, he was an invited panelist at the National Conference on Representational Painting, sponsored by American Artist Magazine and held in the summer of 2004.

Although best known for his marine subjects, Davis strives to make his work accessible to those with a variety of tastes while expanding his own horizons as an artist. Following the tremendous popularity of Davis’ “Lilacs and Basket”, featured on the poster for The Cahoon Museum of American Art 1992 exhibition entitled, “The Flowers of New England”, the Nantucket Basket series began.

In the last few years, Bill has shifted to painting more landscapes and to plein air painting, partly influenced by his friendship with artists Joseph McGurl and Donald Demers. During 1998 the three friends painted together in various locations all over New England. The result of their efforts was a show entitled The New American Luminists Revisit the Native Landscape held at Tree’s Place in Orleans, Massachusetts.

Once you have seen a painting by William R. Davis, you will understand why he has a national reputation as one of the best marine artists presently working in the United States. Mr. Davis grew up in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. He is a self-taught artist whose oil paintings typically capture the serene light of sunrise or sunset on the water. He employs many of the techniques traditionally used by American luminosity painters to realize his personal vision, showing a marked preference for 19th century subjects.

Bill is a Fellow Artist Member of the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA); Artist Member the Guild of Boston Artists; Board of Trustee Cape Cod Maritime Museum; Artist Member, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY. His awards include: 1989, 1990 & 1999 Award of Excellence the Maritime Gallery International Marine Art Exhibition, Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT; 1991 Second Place – Copley Society; 2018 Best in Show– Bold Brush Art Show FASO Feb.