William Edward Freeman was born in Norwich, England in 1853. He studied at South Kensington Art School (that later became the Royal College of Art). He won a prize from Lord Leighton. He painted in the same circle as John Sell Cotman. Freeman exhibited at the Thames Valley Art Club but made little effort to sell his works. He became an eccentric figure even among artists, He tied up his trousers with bootlace while riding around on an old tricycle in a wild or unusual manner. He let his hair grow long. His shyness and behavior prevented him from achieving the popularity that his talents deserved. In his later years he was almost entirely painting in watercolors. His themes consisted mainly of views of the Thames and of London streets. He had great technical mastery of his medium, with a Blake-like quality of vision. Freeman was influenced by romantic literature. He depicted landscapes or seascapes with human wraith-like figures seeming to be always searching. Many of his paintings show a single figure looking out to sea or across a darkened landscape.
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