(b Penegoes, nr. Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire [now Powys], ?(1 Aug.) 1713 [or perhaps 1712 or 1714]; d Colomendy Hall, Llanferres, Denbighshire [now Clwyd], 11/12 May 1782). British painter, born in rural north Wales, the son of a well-connected clergyman who encouraged his interest in art as well as giving him a good classical education. Wilson became the leading British landscape painter of his generation, but initially he seems to have worked mainly as a portraitist. He began his training in London in 1729 and was working independently by 1735, but the decisive change in his career did not come until his visit to Italy in 1750–7, when he decided to devote himself exclusively to landscape. He is said to have done this at the urging of Francesco Zuccarelli, whom he met in Venice and whose portrait he painted (1751, Tate, London), but he was more obviously influenced by the painting of Claude and by the natural surroundings of Rome where Claude had worked.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press) [edited]

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