George Washington Wilson, 1823 - 1893. Commercial photographer
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George Washington Wilson, 1823 - 1893. Commercial photographer about 1879
  • Scottish Art
This small sketch in oils depicts the painter and pioneer photographer George Washington Wilson. Born near Banff, Aberdeenshire, Wilson studied art in Edinburgh, London and Paris. He first worked as a painter of portrait miniatures but soon learned about the recently invented calotype photographic process. In 1852 he set up a portrait photography studio in Aberdeen, which became hugely successful. His portable darkroom also allowed him to take landscape photographs around the country and overseas. By the 1880s, his firm was one of the largest and most famous photographic publishers worldwide. Its vast collection of glass negatives are now held by the University of Aberdeen and Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums. The latter also hold the finished portrait for which this sketch was made.

Glossary Open

Calotype

The first effective version of photography, using drawing or writing paper for both the negative and the positive. The paper was sensitised with potassium iodide and silver nitrate, exposed and developed in gallic acid and silver nitrate.

Darkroom

A darkened room in which light-sensitive photographic materials are used for developing film and printing photographs.

Glass plate negative

A photographic negative using glass as its support.

Miniature

A painting or drawing, usually a portrait, on a very small scale. These were popular prior to the invention of photographic portraits in the 19th century.

Calotype, Darkroom, Glass plate negative, Miniature

Details

  • Acc. No. PG 2956
  • Medium Oil on board
  • Size 18.00 x 12.00 cm (framed: 31.00 x 26.00 x 5.00 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1994