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HOWISON or HOWIESON, WILLIAM (1798–1850), line engraver, was born at Edinburgh in 1798. He was educated at George Heriot's Hospital, and on leaving that institution was apprenticed to an engraver named Wilson. He never received any instruction in drawing beyond what he acquired during his apprenticeship, and for some time he worked in comparative obscurity, being chiefly employed upon small plates. Some of these were after David O. Hill, R.S.A., and by Hill's introduction Howison's work attracted the attention of Sir George Harvey, who was the first to appreciate his talents, and to afford scope for their display by giving him a commission to engrave his picture of 'The Curlers.' The merits of this engraving led to his election in 1838 as an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy, the only instance of such an honour having been conferred on an en. He afterwards engraved 'The Polish Exiles,' after Sir William Allan, P.R.S.A., and 'The Covenanters' Communion,' and 'A Schule Skailin,' after Sir George Harvey, P.R.S.A., and at the time of his death was engaged upon 'The First Letter from the Emigrants,' after Thomas Faed, R. A., for the Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland. He died at 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh, on 20 Dec. 1850, and was buried in the Greyfriars churchyard.

William Howison the engraver must be distinguished from William Howison (fl. 1823) poet and philosopher, who also lived in Edinburgh, was a friend of Sir Walter Scott (Lockhart, Life of Sir W. Scott, pp. 230, 505-6), and was author of:

  1. 'Polydore' (a ballad by which he introduced himself to Scott, who inserted it in the `Edinburgh Annual Review' for 1810).
  2. 'Fragments and Fictions' (published under the assumed name of M. de Pendemots).
  3. 'An Essay on the Sentiments of Attraction, Adaptation, and Vanity.'
  4. 'A Key to the Mythology of the Ancients.'
  5. 'Europe's Likeness to the Human Spirit,' Edinburgh, 1821, 12mo.
  6. 'A Grammar of Infinite Forms, or the Mathematical Elements of Ancient Philosophy and Mythology,' Edinburgh, 1823, 12mo.
  7. 'The Conquest of the Twelve Tribes.'

[Scotsman, 28 Dec. 1850; Edinburgh Evening Courant, 28 Dec. 1850; Art Journal, 1851, p. 44, reprinted in Gent. Mag. 1851, i. 321; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 500; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves, 1886-9, i. 684; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. v. 253.]

R. E. G.