William Home Lizars was born the eldest son of Daniel Lizars' eleven children.

Having received his early education at the High School in Edinburgh, he was apprenticed

to his father in the latter's engraving business before being accepted as a student

at the Board of Trustees' Drawing Academy in 1804, already styling himself 'engraver'.


There he studied in the company of David Wilkie, and according to his obituary in The Scotsman

he was a most ardent student, devoting every leisure hour to his favourite pursuit, and studying

Sir Joshua Reynolds' lectures and whatever works hethought would contribute

to his advancement.  In 1806 Lizars was given permission by the Board

to extend his period of study and then in 1807 he asked if he might dedicate to the Trustees

his engraving of Queen Mary's escape from Lochleven Castle.


      In 1808 Lizars exhibited five works at the First public Exhibition in Scotland by Artists.

According to Lord Cockburn in his Memorialsof his Time, at that time

Art was scarcely ever talked of.


This Exhibition, however, showed that there were more pencils at work, though obscurely,

than was supposed. It was a subterranean stir that had moved the surface.

Even in the photograph of The Earl of Buclian shown in this exhibition one can see how very skilled a portraitist Lizars was, and it is of interest that the other work she exhibited

were all portraits.  His personality seems to be breaking through the firm mould

of the classical training he must have received at the Academy, which is displayed

in the formal disposition of the muses and antique paraphernalia

surrounding the finely featured young violinist.


      Lizars, one feels, would have been justified in looking forward to the possibility

of a distinguished artistic career. It seems ironic thatin the year when his father died (1812) leaving him with the responsibility ofmanaging the engraving business and supporting

his mother and brothers and sisters, the youngest of whom had been born only in 1809,

Lizars' best known paintings Scotch Wedding and Reading the Will were exhibited

at the Royal Academy in London.  (They are now in the National Gallery of Scotland)


These works show a careful almost Hogarthian observation of character,

a pleasant use of colour and an excellent facility in draughtsmanship.  Some of the expressions may be a little exaggerated and one calls to mind Le Brun whose work Lizars must have studied as it was engraved in his father's workshopduring his apprenticeship. However, the finesse

of some of the painting acts as an effective counterbalance.


It is interesting that both these works were exhibited a few years

before Wilkie's famous treatment of the same subjects.


      The little original work which survives in addition is of great quality:

the charming self-portrait of which a photograph is exhibited here, one wishes

for a companion work depicting Lizars' wife, Henrietta (whose beauty and kindness

Audubon described with such warmth)  Other portraits in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery; a very fine pencil drawing of Gothic tracery in the National Gallery of Scotland;

a majestic church interior in the Royal Scottish Academy collection, together with its study.

Lizars was an early member (No. 25) of the Royal Scottish Academy.

It was no mean talent, but of necessity his energy had to be channelled elsewhere.


       The new art of engraving upon copper, which Mr Lizars invented,

is a substitute for wood engraving.  It possesses every advantage which cannon engraving does, and at the same time all the advantages of engraving on wood; and, above all,

it enables us to procure as many impressions as can be taken from types.