George Washington Wilson was born on 7 February 1823 in Scotland. He studied at the art school in Edinburgh, Scottland.
In 1849 Wilson set up a shop in Aberdeen to practice the profession of miniture painting, in which he gained considerable success.
In 1850 he had the honor of taking the first photograph of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Balmoral, and he was frequently recommisioned. This led to a sereies of royal photographic sittings. He photographed Emperor Fredrick, the crown prince of Prussia. Emperor Fredick also commissioned Wilson to execute a series of water color sketches representative of Deeside scenery for presentation to the princess Royal, at a time he was courting the Princess Royal.
In 1852, based on his knowledge of photography and belief that it would overcome miniture painting, he joined his son John Hay Wilson and established a portrait studio at 25 Crown Street in Aberdeen.
During the 1860s and 1870s, George Washington Wilson became a pioneer in Landscape in photography. He made long expeditions to notable parts of Scotland, taking landscape photographs, and his views of Scotland became widely celebrated. He used a portable tent to fix the wet-collodian images.
In 1885 Wilson moved into a larger buidling for printing to accomodate the volume of prints that the firm was producing. The firms Office, finishing and publishing operations were at Saint Smithin Street, the portrait department at 25 Crown Street and lantern slide production and printing works at Stanley Street, Aberdeen.
In 1886, George Washington Wilson retired and his three of his five sons took over the business, J. Hay Wilson, Louis Wilson, and Charles A. WIlson. He took up the brush and painted portrits of several citizens of eminence. At this time a major portion of the large busines was in Landscape photography. The firm would send employees out on expedition in erly spring in search of photographing exotic landscapes, only to return in late fall.
on March 9th, 1893 the business closed negotiations and became a limited company and on this same day George Washington Wilson unexpectedly died at age seventy.
George Washington Wilson Ltd. created many thousands images. Each original negative image was retouched for belmishes by hand and a title added along with GWW by a lithographic writer. The preservation techniques employed at the firm added a coat of spirit varnish in the presence of heat to add durability for the printing process and has retained the high quality of the images today. The prints were made in a similar high quality process with a final rinsing of cloride of gold provding a rich purplish tone.
British Journal of Photography, 1893
Wyman's Commercial Encyclopedia, 1888
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