The work of Robert Francis Williams needs no translation. It speaks to the viewer in the language of light and pure color.
During a career that spanned more than seven decades, Williams produced an extensive body of work including equally accomplished paintings of landscapes, seascapes, portraits, and still lifes.
His most noted work was created during a 20,000 mile trek across America from 1938 to 1940. During that time, Williams painted more than one hundred landscapes of the national parks he called his cathedrals.

Cypress Grove 2, Istachata FL
Cypress Grove 2, Istachata, Florida, 1938 oil on canvas

Williams’ interpretation of the American landscape won the artist national acclaim when thirty of those paintings were selected for a solo exhibit in the Federal Building at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. And giving evidence to the breadth of his talent, Williams also had two still lifes exhibited in the IBM Pavilion at the same World’s Fair.

Mexican Still Life
Mexican Still Life, 1939 oil on canvas

The national attention Williams received for his work was interrupted by World War II. After the war, American Impressionists lost favor with the art community as the abstract expressionist movement took hold and dominated the art world. Although he disliked the classification of art by schools, Williams stayed committed to impressionist and plein air methods of painting throughout his career.

“True art is ageless. Every painter paints himself, regardless of his subject. There was good and bad art centuries ago, just as there is today. I don’t like to classify art according to school of art. I don’t care what you call it as long as the artist is sincere.”

In his later years, his work reflects California’s diversity from paintings of desert landscapes to Pacific seascapes. The artist continued to express his appreciation of the natural beauty of his environment, painting until his death in 1972.

Del Mar Beach at Moosehead Dr, Aptos CA 1965. oil
Del Mar Beach at Moosehead Drive, Aptos CA 1965, oil

Williams’ work has attracted a devoted following and has been exhibited throughout the country, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and California. A collection of the artist’s etchings is owned by the New York Public Library.
Many of his paintings are owned by private collectors. In 1955, the original collection of thirty national parks paintings were entrusted to the National Parks Service for exhibit in the parks where they were painted.