Wilson Online Reference
Jones 1803
Thomas Jones
Memoirs of Thomas Jones, Penkerrig, Radnorshire, 1803
Walpole Society
London, UK
Date of Publication
Primary published
Source Institution
The Walpole Society (1946-48)
More Information
Vol. 32 (1951), pp. i-vi, 1-162, including appendix and index, edited by A.P. Oppé. MS originally completed in 1803. Wilson is mentioned by his former pupil, Jones, on pp. 9-11, 19-20, 32, 55, 58, 60 [repetition of p. 58], 61 and 141. In his introduction, Oppé notes that the characteristics that most impressed Jones about his master were 'Wilson's easy-going geniality and a naive lack of self-consciousness which, showing itself in unfortunate speeches, may well have given Wilson the reputation of uncultivated boorishness.'
Full Text
Passages referring to Wilson: My Bargain with Wilson was to give him fifty Guineas for two Years [from March 1763] - The first year I was to be confined entirely to making Drawings with black and White Chalks on paper of a Middle Tint, either from his Studies and Pictures, or from Nature - This, he said, was to ground me in the Principles of Light & Shade without being dazzled and misled by the flutter of Colours - he did not approve of tinted Drawings and consequently did not encourage his Pupils in the practise - which, he s'd, hurt the Eye for fine Colouring - There were under his Care at the time two Apprentices, who had served five or six years of their respective Terms. - The elder whose name was Carr, a steady ingenious young man, laboured (poor fellow) under a consumptive complaint, which in less, I believe, than two Years after, carried him off - Hodges, who, since, has made no little bustle in the world, and Who, at that time was the same fine dashing Character that he remained during life - was the Other - A short time afterwards, Farington joined our Company - He entered on the same Terms as my self - Wilson being an unmarried man, kept no house - but had commodious Appartments in the Piazza Covent Garden, which consisted of a Study, or painting room for himself - A large Exhibition or Show-room, a Study for his Pupils, Bed Chamber, Garrets &c - The two Apprentices afore mentioned, not having advanced any Premium, were expected to make up that deficiency by their assistance in dead Colouring and forwarding the Pictures, in proportion to their Abilities, and were accordingly prescribed to certain stated hours daily attendance - As to the Other two Pupils, there being no claim on their time, They were left to their own Discretion - It would have been much better indeed, if there had been more Restraint upon us all, too much of the time that ought to have been dedicated to Study, being squandered away in idle Mirth & frolick - and when Our Master surprised us at our gambols, he only shook his head and, in his dry laconick manner, said, "Gentlemen - this is not the way to rival Claude" - Wilson had such an original turn of thinking, and a Mode of expressing his Ideas so peculiarly his own, that he oft times provoked Mirth without intending it - When we all four have been standing behind his chair observing his process in painting, and listening to a very grave lecture on the Art, some droll Idea or expression would so unexpectedly pop upon us, as to set us all in a Titter - Upon which he would turn round and with a seemingly angry Countenance say "Gentlemen, if you do not understand Decorum, pray retire to your own Appartment" - [pp. 9-10]. In March 1765 my Term with Mr Wilson expired [p. 11] At my first Out Set, There was Lambert, & Wilson, & Zuccarelli, & Gainsborough, & Barret, & Richards, & Marlow in full possession of Landscape business, beside Dahl the Scenepainter [pp. 19-20] And here I can not help observing with what new and uncommon Sensations I was filled on my first traversing this beautiful and picturesque Country [the Roman Campagna] - Every scene seemed anticipated in some dream - It appeared Magick Land - In fact I had copied so many Studies of that great Man, & my Old Master, Richard Wilson, which he had made here as in Other parts of Italy, that I insensibly became familarized with Italian Scenes, and enamoured of Italian forms and, I suppose, injoyed pleasures unfelt by my Companions - Wednesday 30th [April 1777] All went to make Sketches about the Lake of Nemi - particularly a large Plane tree on the Edge of the Water call'd the Arbor Santa, which had a hollow within that I believe w'd contain a dozen persons & I was told here that my Old Master Willson when in this Country made use of it as a Study to Paint in - [p. 58] I never saw the Chigi Park at Lerrici - a place so celebrated for its picturesque Beauty, and the common Study of all Landscape painters - I had long been acquainted with its character before I went to Italy, having copied some views of it that were painted by Wilson and where seemed concentrated the fine Scenery of the surrounding country - [p. 61] In January 1785, I took a little, neat house in London Street Tottenham Court Road [...] I must own, too, that I was guilty of a few innocent Impostures - by making Imitations of my old Master, Wilson and Zuccharelli - which passed among Our Connoisseurs at some of the public Sales for Originals - but this trade of Imposition was not suffered to last long, from the Jealousy of certain persons, whose province I had, by these Means infringed upon - [p. 141]