Wilson Online Reference
Library of the Fine Arts 1832
Library of the Fine Arts; or Repertory of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, and Engraving
M. Arnold, Tavistock Street, Covent Garden
London, UK
Date of Publication
June 1832
Primary published
Document Inventory/Accession No
Vol. 3, no. 17
More Information
Anecdotes of Artists of the last Fifty Years, found among te Papers of an Amateur Deceased: Richard Wilson, pp. 458-460
Full Text
Notable extracts from the text: [...] [Wilson] painted landscape during his residence in Rome, but met with so little encouragement, that he had nearly determined to return to his original pursuit [portraiture]. Having become known to the celebrated painter Vernet, he was dissuaded from his intention. That painter of beautiful landscapes, convinced of Wilson's singular merit, proposed that they should paint two pictures each, and exchange them. Vernet not only placed Wilson's work in his exhibition room, but assiduously recommended their countryman to the English noblemen and others, highly and justly praising his extraordinary talent. Thus encouraged, he obtained a partial patronage and finished several pictures. [pp. 458-59] [...] In the year 1761 [...] Barret came to London from Ireland, bringing with him two landscapes which he had painted for Lord Powerscourt, and which were so exuberantly praised by the public in general, and by his Irish patrons in particular, that he was considered by himself and others as the first landscape-painter in Europe. Nor was this favourable impression unsupported by enormous profits. The nobility and fashionable amateurs gave him employment, at a rate enhanced, by three or four degrees, above any remuneration which Wilson had ventured to hope for or require - and even that without success!!! [p. 459] [...] The following causes contributed to depress the estimates given to Wilson's works in his life-time. First, his quarrel with Sir J. Reynolds. Secondly, his style of painting being new and original, and very partially understood. And lastly because Barret's manner of treating landscape was more defined and plausible, although very inferior in point of art. Gainsborough's scenery harmonized more with the public feeling; and his excellence, vaunted by Sir Joshua to Wilson's disparagement, secured for him fame and lucrative patronage. Wilson was certainly deficient in a just knowledge of perspective, as will appear from the river in his view of Sion House [P88 & versions], and in one of his Views in Wales. But the most irritable temper, never under control, and a want of complacency in his general intercourses, tended more than all to impede his way with those who were very much inclined to serve him. Having called one day upon Barry, he asked him in a tone of despair or indignation if he knew any one who was mad enough to employ a landscape-painter,- if so, would he recommend him? for he had then literally nothing to do. He was then advanced in years but in full possession of his powers. Poor Barry could have heartily sympathized with him! [p. 460]