George Washington Wilson

George Washington Wilson

George Washington Wilson (7 February 1823 - 9 March 1893) [Getty Museum] was a pioneering Scottish photographer.

After studying art in Edinburgh and London, Wilson returned to his native city of Aberdeen in 1849 and established a business as a portrait miniaturist catering to the wealthy families of the North East of Scotland. After some years of mediocre success, Wilson ventured into portrait photography in 1852 setting a portrait studio with John Hay in 25 Crown Street in Aberdeen. From there, aided by his well-developed technical and commercial acumen and a contract to photograph the Royal Family while documenting the building of Balmoral Castle in 1854-1855, he established himself as one of Scotland's premier photographers working for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1860 [Getty Museum] .

Pioneering the development of techniques for photography outside of the studio and the mass production of photographic prints, he moved increasingly from portraiture to landscape photography in the 1860s. He also produced stereoscopic pictures which main characteristic was that the exposures were very short. By 1864 he claimed to have sold over half a million prints. At the time of his death in 1893 his business employed 40 staff and was one of the largest publishers of photographic prints in the world, competing with James Valentine, who was also a prolific photographer, with a large company in Dundee.


Over 40,000 of Wilson's photographic plates still exist today, largely due to the meticulous washing and chemical treatments he insisted on. Aberdeen University is in possession of some 38,000 of these, which were donated by an Aberdeen photographer, the late Archibald J.B. Strachan, in 1958.

External links

* [ Works in the National Galleries of Scotland]
* [ The University of Aberdeen Photographic Archives]
* [ The George Washington Wilson Photographic Archive: a Postscript by R.V. Pringle]
* [ Courtauld Institute G.W. Wilson Samples]
* [ Scottish Scenery by G.W. Wilson]


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