He returned to London in 1757 where he established himself as a landscape artist of the classical, grande style of Italian views and classical literary landscapes at a studio in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden. This grew into a prosperous business which had a number of apprentices- one of these being the famous Welsh artist Thomas Jones (1742-1803). Wilson shortly after this became one of the founder members of the Royal Academy of Arts. One of Wilson’s greatest achievements was that he opened his artistic contemporaries’ eyes to the majestic magnificence of his home country of Wales leading the way for generations of future artists to explore and record its wonder. In the mid 1760s he painted Snowndon from Llyn Nantlle, Caernarfon Castle and Cader Idris as well as views of South Wales. A sketch for the work Conwy Castle created by Wilson from mid 18th century also forms part of our collection here at the National Library of Wales. As the art historian Peter Lord stated: ‘His painting is placed as a contributor to the growth of the Welsh landscape as an icon representing the National Soul’.
This painting is part of the Europeana 280 initiative, that involved the 28 European Ministries of Culture working with their national cultural institutions to select at least 10 paintings that represented their country’s contribution to Europe’s art history.
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