William Hemsley, the son of an architect, was a genre painter.
Hemsley, who began his career as an architect, was self-taught as a painter. His paintings, taken from every day life, were painted on a small scale, and followed the tradition of painters such as Thomas Webster and F. D. Hardy. During his career he travelled through out Germany and Holland, although being based in London.
In 1859 Hemsley was elected a member of the Society of British Artists, a society which was to name JW its President in 1886. He was later to become its vice-President. He exhibited in London not only with the SBA but with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colour and Arthur Tooth and Sons Gallery. He also exhibited with the Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Manchester City Art Gallery.
Kelly's London Post Office Directory, London, 1862; Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Artists, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and Anna Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980.