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HomeContents > People > Photographers > George Washington Wilson

Other: G.W. Wilson 
Other: George W. Wilson 
Dates:  1823, 7 February - 1893, 9 March
Born:  Great Britain, Scotland, Banffshire [now Grampian], Alvah
Active:  Great Britain
George Washington Wilson (1823-1893) was born in Alvah, Banffshire, the son of a crofter. He began work as a joiner in his native parish, but went on to train as a miniaturist in Edinburgh and at the Royal Academy School in London. In 1848 he settled in Aberdeen, where he established himself first as an artist and later (c.1852) as a photographer at 25 Crown Street, Aberdeen. He constructed several remarkably good lenses, with which he carried out a series of interesting experiments. In 1853 he was the first person to photograph the Queen and Prince Consort at Balmoral, later receiving many more commissions from the Royal family when they were in residence at Balmoral. Wilson went on to build up a substantial business as a publisher of topographic views, principally of Scotland, where he travelled to Braemar, the Trossachs, the Falls of Clyde and many of the wilder parts of Scotland. His English output is small compared with his Scottish views, but Wilson made several journeys into England. One important journey was made in 1860 when Wilson travelled to Southampton via the West Country.
In addition to his photographic enterprises, he was also a director of the Opera House Company and the Aberdeen Music Hall. In later life, he ceased to take a leading role in his photographic business and returned to painting, producing oils of several of his old friends. The company reached the peak of its success in the 1870‘s, after which it went into a gradual decline. He was survived by his widow, four daughters and five sons, three of whom worked for the business.
[Contributed by Paul Frecker]

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George Washington Wilson
Self portrait of George Washington Wilson 
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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
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George Washington Wilson ... 
The George Washington Wilson Photographic Collection, now in the care of the University of Aberdeen's Historic Collections, consists of over 40,000 glass plate negatives produced by the local firm of George Washington Wilson & Co. during the second half of the nineteenth century. 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.72 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 


Photographic collections are a useful means of examining large numbers of photographs by a single photographer on-line. 

In the 1990 survey of 535 American photographic collections George Washington Wilson was represented in 49 of the collections. Source: Andrew H. Eskind & Greg Drake (eds.) 1990 Index to American Photographic Collections [Second Enlarged Edition] (Boston, Massachusetts: G.K. Hall & Co.) 
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