H.W. Williams was a pupil of the artist David Allan, whose influence can be seen in the quality of his draughtsmanship. Williams was primarily a landscape painter. His friend and fellow artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner, both influenced and admired him. In 1817, Williams travelled to Italy and Greece where he painted the varied landscapes. A decade later, he published Select Views of Greece (1827-29), which earned him the nickname 'Grecian Williams'. He was closely involved in the plans to establish the Scottish Academy (now the Royal Scottish Academy) in Edinburgh in 1826. Williams was one of the few nineteenth-century Scottish watercolour painters to find a market for his work in London.