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Richard Wilson (painter)

Richard Wilson (painter)

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Richard Wilson was a Welsh
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

Landscape art
Landscape art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still...

Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, and one of the founder members of the Royal Academy
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 in 1768. Wilson has been described as '...the most distinguished painter Wales has ever produced and the first to appreciate the aesthetic possibilities of his country.' He is considered to be the father of landscape painting in Britain.


The son of a clergyman, Wilson was born in Penegoes, Montgomeryshire
Montgomeryshire, also known as Maldwyn is one of thirteen historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. Montgomeryshire is still used as a vice-county for wildlife recording...

. The family was an old and respected one, and Wilson was first cousin to Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden
Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden
Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden was an English lawyer, judge and Whig politician who was first to hold the title of Earl of Camden...

. In 1729 he went to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 where he began as a portrait
thumb|250px|right|Portrait of [[Thomas Jefferson]] by [[Rembrandt Peale]], 1805. [[New-York Historical Society]].A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness,...

 painter, under the apprentership of an obscure artist, Thomas Wright. From 1750 to 1757 he was in Italy and adopted landscape on the advice of Francesco Zuccarelli
Francesco Zuccarelli
Francesco Zuccarelli was an Italian Rococo painter.He was born at Pitigliano, in southern Tuscany, where he initially apprenticed with Paolo Anesi...

. Painting in Italy and afterwards in England, he was the first major British painter to primarily concentrate on landscape. He composed well, but saw and rendered only the general effects of nature thereby creating a personal, ideal style influenced by Claude Lorrain
Claude Lorrain
Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English (also Claude Gellée, his real name, or in French Claude Gellée, , dit le Lorrain) Claude Lorrain, , traditionally just Claude in English (also Claude Gellée, his real name, or in French...

 and the Dutch landscape tradition. According to John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

, he "paints in a manly way, and occasionally reaches exquisite tones of colour." He concentrated on painting Italianate landscapes and landscapes based upon classical literature, but when his painting The Destruction of the Children of Niobe (c.1759-60) won high acclaim he gained many commissions from wealthy families seeking classical portrayals of their estates.

His landscapes were acknowledged as an influence by Constable
John Constable
John Constable was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection...

, John Crome
John Crome
John Crome was an English landscape artist of the Romantic era, one of the principal artists of the "Norwich school". He is known as Old Crome to distinguish him from his son, John Berney Crome, who was also a well-known artist.-Life and work:Crome was born in Norwich in Norfolk, the son of a weaver...

 and Turner. Wilson died in Colomendy, Denbighshire
Denbighshire is a county in north-east Wales. It is named after the historic county of Denbighshire, but has substantially different borders. Denbighshire has the distinction of being the oldest inhabited part of Wales. Pontnewydd Palaeolithic site has remains of Neanderthals from 225,000 years...

 and is buried in the grounds of the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Mold, Flintshire
Mold, Flintshire
Mold is a town in Flintshire, North Wales, on the River Alyn. It is the administrative seat of Flintshire County Council, and was also the county town of Clwyd from 1974 to 1996...



In 1948, Mary Woodall, keeper of art at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, organised a pioneer exhibition of his work.

Extant works include:

  • Caernarfon llanrug
  • Dolbadarn pygmy Castell Dolbadrn
  • Dover Castle
  • Lake Avernus with a Sarcophagus
  • Lydford Waterfall, Tavistock
  • River at Penegoes
  • The Garden of the Villa Madama, Rome
  • Valley of the Mawddach with Cader Idris
  • View at Tivoli
  • View in Windsor Great Park
  • Cilgerran Castle
  • Classical Landscape, Strada Nomentana
  • Conway Castle
  • Dolgellau Bridge
  • The Niagara Falls'
  • Pistyll Rhaeadr, Aber Falls
  • Solitude (or Landskip with Hermits)


  • Ceyx and Alcyone (1768)
  • Francis Ayscough
    Francis Ayscough
    Francis Ayscough was a tutor to George III and Clerk of the Closet to his father Frederick, Prince of Wales and later Dean of Bristol Cathedral.-Biography:...

    , Dean of Bristol and tutor to George III of England with his pupils

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