George Washington Wilson was born in Scotland on February 7, 1823. A hugely successful businessman, Wilson had left home at 12 to be a carpenter, and subsequently trained as a portrait painter before turning to photography.
After studying art in Edinburgh and Paris, Wilson returned to his native city of Aberdeen in 1849 and built his first camera. Wilson ventured into portrait photography in 1852, setting up a portrait studio with John Hay on 25 Crown Street in Aberdeen. From there, aided by his well-developed technical and commercial acumen and a contract to photograph the Royal Family while documenting the building of Balmoral Castle in 1854-1855, he established himself as one of Scotland's premier photographers. He became the official Scottish photographer to the Royal Family in 1860.
Wilson was a founding member in 1863 of the Liverpool Amateur Photographic Association. He went on to pioneer techniques for photography outside of the studio and the mass production of photographic prints. By 1864 he claimed to have sold over half a million prints.
By 1880 he had established the largest publishing company of topographical views in Britain called "G.W. Wilson & Co."
Wilson died on March 9, 1893. At the time of his death his business employed 40 staff members and was one of the largest publishers of photographic prints in the world, competing with James Valentine, who was also a prolific photographer with a large company in Dundee.
Over 40,000 of Wilson's photographic plates still exist today, largely due to the meticulous washing and chemical treatments he insisted on. Aberdeen University is in possession of those donated by an Aberdeen photographer, the late Archibald J.B. Strachan, in 1958. The university also cares for a second significant collection discovered in a private house in Aberdeen in 1970.
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Sale Price $1,050
Medium Albumen print
Photo Date 1875c Print Date 1870s
Dimensions 8-1/4 x 6-1/2 in. (210 x 165 mm)
Photo Country Morocco
Photographer Country France
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works, Ltd.