Virgil Williams is listed as a landscape, genre, and portrait painter, as well as a decorator, whose last known address was San Francisco.
He studied at Brown University, in New York City under Daniel Huntington , and in Rome with William Page (1811-1885). He studied in Paris and in Rome from 1853 to 1860. He returned to Boston in 1860 where he exhibited at the Leonard Auction Rooms in 1863 (White Mountains) and 1871 (Morning, Winnepiseogee [sic]). Williams taught drawing at Harvard and the Boston School of Technology.
He settled in San Francisco in 1871 where he directed the newly formed San Francisco School of Design until his death. He was a co-founder of the San Francisco Art Association, as well as the co-founder and president of the Bohemian Club (1875-1876). His first wife, Mary, (whom he divorced about 1860) was the daughter of painter William Page. He married Dora Norton in 1871 and returned to San Francisco with her. Virgil and Dora were close friends of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Williams also exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1861), the California Art Union (1865), and the Boston Art Club (1875, 1880, 1889).
Williams’s work is preserved at the Oakland Museum of California, the Silverado Museum, Saint Helena, CA, the Bancroft Library at UC Berkley, and the California Historical Society.