Richard Wilson (1 August 1714 – 15 May 1782) was a Welsh landscape painter, and one of the founder members of the Royal Academy in 1768. Wilson has been described as ‘…the most distinguished painter Wales has ever produced and the first to appreciate the aesthetic possibilities of his country.‘ Wilson is considered to be the father of landscape painting in Britain.
The son of a clergyman, Wilson was born in Penegoes, Montgomeryshire. The family was an old and respected one, and Wilson was first cousin to Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden. In 1729 he went to London where he began as a portrait painter, under the apprentership of an obscure artist, Thomas Wright. From 1750 to 1757 he was in Italy and adopted landscape on the advice of Francesco Zuccarelli. Painting in Italy and afterwards in England, he was the first major British painter to primarily concentrate on landscape. He composed well, but saw and rendered only the general effects of nature thereby creating a personal, ideal style influenced by Claude Lorrain and the Dutch landscape tradition. According to John Ruskin, he “paints in a manly way, and occasionally reaches exquisite tones of colour.” He concentrated on painting Italianate landscapes and landscapes based upon classical literature, but when his painting The Destruction of the Children of Niobe (c.1759-60) won high acclaim he gained many commissions from wealthy families seeking classical potrayals of their estates.
His landscapes were acknowledged as an influence by Constable and Turner. Wilson died in Colomendy, Denbighshire and is buried in the grounds of the parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Mold, Flintshire.
Extant works include:
- Caernarfon llanrug
- Dolbadarn pygmy Castell dolbadrn
- Dover Castle
- Lake Avernus with a Sarcophagus
- Lydford Waterfall, Tavistock
- River at Penegoes
- The Garden of the Villa Madama, Rome
- Valley of the Mawddach with Cader Idris
- View at Tivoli
- View in Windsor Great Park
- Cilgerran Castle
- Classical Landscape, Strada Nomentana
- Conway Castle
- Dolgellau Bridge
- Pistyll Rhaeadr, Aber Falls
- Ceyx and Alcyone (1768)