I’ve been thinking about this peculiar fellow today for some reason; perhaps because of the weather. The eponymous colour was always a favourite of mine back in the day when I was painting but I’d never bothered to find out more about the artist who “invented” the particular shade of grey that now bears his name. (Also, I didn’t have Google back then…)
Turns out that while William Payne was a highly prolific watercolourist, very little is actually known about his personal life. He first started exhibiting at the Society of Artists of Great Britain in 1776 from an address in Park Street, Grosvener Square, but for the next 15 years sent most of his pictures to the Royal Academy from an obscure dockyard in Plymouth. Later he returned to London, where he became the most fashionable drawing master of the day, last exhibiting in 1830, the year of his death.