Richard Wilson Online Project Highlights

Extensive Survey of Works in Private and Public Collections Worldwide/New Photography

During the course of the project numerous works that have changed ownership over the previous 60 years have been identified and re-examined. Among these, many that have not been seen recently or were previously little known have been relocated, recorded in situ and re-photographed. These include Bourne Park, Kent, Croome Court, Worcestershire and the three views of Moor Park, Hertfordshire – all in English private collections.

The decades since the landmark monographs by Constable and Ford and since the major exhibition in 1982–83 have seen more Wilsons scattered across the globe and these too have been re-photographed and re-assessed. They include such important works as Snowdon from Llyn Nantlle (Shizuoka Prefectural Museum, Shizuoka, Japan), Classical Landscape with Diana and Actaeon (Bermuda National Gallery and the Government of Bermuda), The Hermitage (Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa) and St Peter's and the Vatican from the Janiculum, Rome (Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney). The range of public collections containing works by Wilson is further documented and presented by the interactive map of works in public collections worldwide, which allows the user to see where Wilson's works are concentrated and may be viewed most easily.

Work of Art Linking

The challenge of Wilson scholarship, aptly described as a connoisseur’s minefield by the late Sir Ellis Waterhouse, has been addressed by the linking of related works to each other. Different versions of a multiple composition such as The River Dee near Eaton Hall may thus be accessed and compared with one another and related drawings and prints are all accessible via the 'Links' tab in the work of art detail view. This is particularly useful on the relatively rare occasions when Wilson’s compositional drawings relate directly to a painting, as in the case of Torre delle Grotte near Naples, and where there are prints of the same composition, such as Solitude, by different printmakers or of varying dates.

Exhibition Linking

Exhibitions dedicated to or containing works by Wilson have been surveyed and recorded, allowing the user easier and more extensive access than ever before to the display history of the artist’s compositions during and since his lifetime. Such exhibitions are directly linked to the works they included and to related publications and can be viewed by clicking the 'Links' tab in the work of art detail page.

Richard Wilson Online has been compiled in close association with the Tercentenary Exhibition, Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting, showing at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (March–June 2014) and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (July–October 2014). It is also founded on the ground–breaking exhibition, Richard Wilson: The Landscape of Reaction, held in London, Cardiff and New Haven in 1982–83.

Biography/Document Linking

Further links unite each work with the biographies of figures with whom they are closely connected - patrons, such as Lord Dartmouth, sitters for portraits, such as Admiral Thomas Smith and owners of paintings and drawings, such as Benjamin Booth. Publications and documents relating to the artist are also linked to each work, ranging from contemporary manuscript material to recent books, articles, catalogues and websites (these can be accessed via the 'Links' tab in the work of art detail page). There is also a direct link to the W.G. Constable Archive, held at the Paul Mellon Centre, allowing the user digital access to an authoritative array of research by the doyen of 20th century Wilson studies on the works catalogued in his milestone publication of 1953.

Additional Image Linking

The additional image linking feature of the project enables switching between full and detail images, for example between the painting The River Dee near Eaton Hall, Petworth and a detail showing Wilson’s signature on this painting and also between a painting such as Solitude I, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea and an X-ray of the painting.

Conservation/Condition Information

A major feature of Richard Wilson Online is the painstaking attention paid to the artist’s materials and techniques. Study visits to most of the works catalogued, (it is intended eventually to all) by Paul Spencer–Longhurst and Kate Lowry, formerly the Chief Conservator of the National Museum of Wales, have facilitated the detailed and comparative commentary contained in the ‘Techniques and Materials’ and ‘Condition and Conservation’ sections in the work of art detail pages. This has greatly assisted with attributional issues.