VIEWS OF
GEORGE WASHINGTON WILSON


G. W. Wilson  is firmly established today as one of the masters of nineteenth century photography. Only 25 years ago his name was remembered by only a handful of dedicated researchers and enthusiasts. The book 'George Washington Wilson, Artist and Photographer' by Roger Taylor, published by Aberdeen University Press in 1981, introduced Wilson to a much wider and appreciative audience. I am indebted to the Aberdeen University Press for permission to quote extracts from the book here.

In 1852 Aberdeen in Scotland mounted its first photographic exhibition at the Mechanics' Institute, displaying work by, among others, Cundall, Delamotte, Fenton, Le Gray and Fox Talbot. A special feature of the exhibition was the inclusion of a competition section for work by Scottish photographers. Wilson, in partnership with John Hay Junior, recognising the opportunity for publicity, submitted 22 portraits and two landscapes. The judges awarded a bronze medal to Wilson and Hay and, in addition, presented them with an additional silver medal for '... the general excellence and evidence of progress displayed in their collodio-calotype portraits'.

Wilson, aged 29, was on his way to established success. In  1853 however, an event took place some 50 miles from Aberdeen that was to have a profound effect on Wilson's social and business prosperity. On 23 September, Queen Victoria, aided by Prince Albert, laid the foundation stone of their new highland home, Balmoral Castle.

Once the work was under way, Prince Albert commissioned Wilson and Hay to make photographs at regular intervals of the building's progress. What prompted Albert to select Wilson and Hay is unknown. Although Wilson initially produced factual photographs of the construction work, when this was completed he was retained by Albert to photograph the interior and, gradually, the family including the Queen and the many European royal visitors who came to the castle.
 

George Walker, stationer, bookseller and friend of Wilson tells us that in 1855 'stereoscopic views began to appear at this time, and Wilson experimented. Early views by Wilson, although his technique was not perfected, found a ready market at 2/- (15 cents) each. This was the period when the railways were opening up what until then had been far-flung areas to tourism, and one of the first regions to feel the benefit of a vast influx of tourists (all wanting photograpic souveniers) was the Trossachs and Loch Katrine immortalized by Sir Walter Scott in his epic work 'The Lady of the Lake'.
 
 


No 9. Loch Katrine, Perthshire.
Condition. Slightly light images.
Order #3951.
Price $12.
 
 


No 10. Loch Katrine- Path by the Loch.
Condition 9.
Order #3952.
Price $18.
 


No 10A. Loch Katrine.
Condition 8/9 (slight marks in sky).
Order #3953.
Price $18.
 


No 12. Balmoral Castle from Craig-an-Gowan.
Condition. Quite a lot of the surface of the back is damaged.
Order #3954.
Price $8.
 


No 14. Balmoral Castle from the North West.
Condition 8.
Order #3955.
Price $18.
 

There are several versions of the Clamshell Cave, Staffa, views. Whether Wilson visited more than once is not known but all feature old fishermen types who would have been the ones who transported Wilson and his equipment.
 


No 16. The Clamshell Cave, Staffa.  Classic Wilson, photographed in 1867.
Condition 8/9.
Order #3956.
Price $22.
 


No 17. Fingal's Cave, Staffa.  Man standing.
Condition 8.
Order #3957.
Price $18.
 


No 20. The Trossachs Pier, Loch Katrine.
Condition. Light marks in sky.
Order #3958.
Price $22.
 


No 21. The Pass of the Trossachs, looking towards Benvenue.
Condition 8.
Order #3959.
Price $15.
 


No 22. The Pass of the Trossachs, looking towards Ben Venue.
Condition 9.
Order #3960.
Price $18.
 


No 28. Loch Katrine, Perthshire.
Condition 8.
Order #3961.
Price $18.
 


No 35A. Linn of Quoich, Braemar.
Condition 9.
Order #3962.
Price $18.
 


No 36. Loch Katrine - Ellen's Isle.
Condition 8/9.
Order #3963.
Price $18.
 


No 36. Loch Katrine - Ellen's Isle. Variant.
Condition 9.
Order #3964.
Price $22.
 


No 38. 'Glasgow Cathedral, from the Necropolis'.
Condition 8.
Order #3965.
Price $18.
 


No 41. The Linn of Corrymulzie, Braemar.
Condition 8.
Order #3966.
Price $15.
 


No 46A. Stirling Castle.
Condition 7 (some surface scratches).
Order #3967.
Price $15.
 


No 58. Bit on the Trossachs.
Condition 8.
Order #3968.
Price $15.
 


No 59A. Loch Achray and Ben Venue from above the Trossachs' Inn.
Condition 8.
Order #3969.
Price $18.
 


No 59B. Loch Achray and Ben Venue.
Condition 9/10.
Order #3970.
Price $22.
 

'When he made his first visit to the Trossachs with George Walker in 1859 they seem to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Walker tells us how they "bathed in the loch, in spite of the monster pike we saw, and we hid ourselves in the bracken, which was in many places eight feet in height". The midges (mosquitoes) they disturbed attacked Walker with ferocity and brought his face and neck out in bright red swellings. He was puzzled that they left Wilson entirely alone and wondered if it was "in consequence of the fumes of chloroform and colloidion with which his clothes were saturated"'.
 


No 65. The Trossachs and Loch Katrine from the Brow of Ben Venue.
Condition. Light marks in sky.
Order #3971.
Price $18.
 


No 69. Loch Katrine.
Condition. A few tiny spots in sky and water area.
Order #3972.
Price $12.
 


No 71. Castleton of Braemar.
Condition. Light spotting in sky.
Order #3973.
Price $18.
 


No 72. Invercauld House, Braemar - From the 'Lions-Face' Rock.
Condition 8,
Order #3974.
Price $18.
 


No 81. The Trossachs Church.
Condition 8.
Order #3975.
Price $18.
 


No 83. In the Pass of the Trossachs. Dated Aug. 9th 1870.
Condition 8.
Order #3976.
Price $15.
 

Melrose Abbey must have been one of Wilson's great successes as there are many variations and views from different angles with different people appearing. Here we show a selection.
 


No 97. Melrose Abbey from the south-west.
Condition 8/9.
Order #3977.
Price $18.
 


No 99. Melrose Abbey from the east.
Condition 8/9.
Order #3978.
Price $22.
 


No 99A. Melrose Abbey, from the East.
Condition. Some soiling on mount.
Order #3979.
Price $18.
 


No 103. Abbotsford from the River.
Condition 9.
Order #3980.
Price $25.
 


No 104. Dryburgh Abbey - The Tomb of Sir Walter Scott.
Condition 8.
Order #3981.
Price $15.
 


No 104B. Dryburgh Abbey - St Mary's Aisle, from the West Door. Dated 1865.
Condition 8/9.
Order #3982.
Price $18.
 


No 107. Edinburgh from Calton Hill - Princes Street.
Condition 8.
Order #3983.
Price $18.
 


No 111. Edinburgh Castle, from Princes Street Gardens.
Condition 7/8.
Order #3984.
Price $15.
 


No 123. Loch of Park, Aberdeenshire (Instantaneous). One of Wilson's earliest views which he visited several times. The boatman was called Sandy by the way.
Condition. Light marks in sky.
Order #3985.
Price $22.
 


No 131. Balmoral Castle from the south. Nice view of lawns being mowed.
Condition. Some glue creep.
Order #3986.
Price $18.
 


No 132. Balmoral Castle, from the south-west.
Condition 8.
Order #3987.
Price $18.
 


No 133. Balmoral Castle, from the N.W.
Condition 7.
Order #3988.
Price $15.
 


No 138. Lower Falls on the Garr-valt, Braemar.
Condition 7.
Order #3989.
Price $15.
 


No 145. Fingal's Cave, Staffa.
Condition 8.
Order #3990.
Price $18.
 


No 145. Fingal's Cave, Staffa.
Condition 9.
Order #3991.
Price $22.
 


No 146. The Bending Pillars, Staffa.
Condition. Light mark in sky on left image.
Order #3992.
Price $18.
 

'The guidebooks recommended the Fall of Foyers as "the most magnificent cataract, out of sight and hearing, in Britain". Wilson's viewpoint coincided exactly with that recommended by the guide books. It was below the second of the two falls, looking up, where "you are so blinded by the sharp spray smoke, and so deafened by the dashing, and clashing, and tumbling and rumbling thunder, that your condition is far from enviable".'
 


No 149. The Falls of Foyers, Inverness-shire.
Condition 7.
Order #3993.
Price $12.
 

'We went off to Glencoe where we staid (sic) in a vile little carriers' inn in the Glen for some days, photographing busily and profitably. The beds in the place did not seem at all clean, being chiefly used by drovers, and as I had a horror at the bare possibility of catching the itch, I stripped to the skin before laying down believing that there was more danger in them attaching to the clothes than to the skin. I had not been asleep for a couple of hours when I was roused by finding I had more bedfellows than was agreeable ... Luckily we had ordered a bottle of whisky the night before but not finding it palatable toddy, it was little used. Getting up, I washed myself all over with it and turning down the blankets gave the bed a good sprinkling, and lay down again getting three hours comfortable sleep, when I repeated the dose with capital effect. The beggers were forced to break the pledge!'.
 


No 152. Waterfall in Glencoe.
Condition 7.
Order #3994.
Price $15.
 


No 154. View in Glencoe.  This was a difficult shot and I have seen versions with varying clarity. This one is excellent.
Condition 9.
Order #3995.
Price $22.
 


No 166. A 'Bit' on Loch Katrine.
Condition 8/9.
Order #3996.
Price $18.
 


No 170. The Hermitage Bridge on the Braan, Dunkeld.
Condition 8.
Order #3997.
Price $18.
 


No 173. Upper Fall of Moness, Aberfeldie.
Condition 7.
Order #3998.
Price $12.
 

'It has often been noticed in history that new ideas and developments occur simultaneously yet independently of each other. Unfortunately this was the case with Wilson's Princes Street photographs which coincided with those published by Edward Anthony in New York. Anthony's views of Broadway were sent to Photographic Notes with an accompanying letter explaining how they were taken, and asking "if you have any specimens of similar results obtained in Europe we should be pleased to hear how they compare". The letter was dated 29 August 1859. . . . Unknown to Anthony, Wilson had taken a similar photograph of Princes Street, Edinburgh that summer which was released at about the same time to Anthony's. It was taken from the upper balcony of a building next to the Sun Fire and Life offices looking towards the Calton Hill. One reviewer noted with delight that "it is high noon-day, the pavement is thronged with pedestrians, and the roadway with vehicles in motion". . . . Copies of this first photograph are rare and its scarcity can be attributed to its brief existence in Wilson's negative files. The following year, 1860, he revisited Edinburgh and made a whole new series of instantaneous views of Princes Street from the same position. . . Wilson took yet another series of views between 1863 and 1864 from the identical position of those made in 1860. This has led to inevitable confusion about the dating and identification of these views. To differentiate between the photographs made in 1860 and those made in 1863/64 one should look at the name of the hotel on the extreme left of the picture. In 1860 this was the "Star Hotel", but between 1861 and 1862 it was modernized . . . reopening in 1863 under the new name of the "Edinburgh Hotel"'.

We are pleased to be able to offer this early and important view with the Star Hotel on the left.
 


No 186. Edinburgh - Princes Street looking towards the Calton Hill (Instantaneous).
Condition. A couple of creases in the left image.
Order #3999.
Price $80.
 


No 192. Westminster Abbey - The Nave.
Condition 8.
Order #4000.
Price $22.
 


No 193. Interior of Westminster Abbey - The Choir.
Condition 8/9.
Order #4001.
Price $22.
 


No 199. Interior of Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey - Stalls of the Kinghts of the Bath.
Condition 8.
Order #4002.
Price $18.
 


No 215. Salisbury Cathedral - The Transept.
Condition 7/8.
Order #4003.
Price $15.
 


No 228. The Channel Fleet in the Firth of Forth. (Instantaneous).
Condition around 7 with slight crease at bottom right corner of mount.
Order #4004.
Price $45.
 


No 253A. Ben-Nevis from above Corpach - Inverness-shire.
Condition 8.
Order #4005.
Price $15.
 


No 272. View in Glencoe, looking down.
Condition 8.
Order #4006.
Price $18.
 


No 276. Lower Falls of the Bruar, Blair Athole.
Condition 9.
Order #4007.
Price $18.
 


No 279. Exeter Cathedral - West Front.
Condition 7.
Order #4008.
Price $15.
 


No 297. Interior of Exeter Cathedral - The Choir, looking East.
Condition. Slight ink stain at top of left image.
Order #4009.
Price $15.
 


'311. The Land's End, Cornwall. Wilson had serious problems with sea mist during his one visit to Cornwall.
Condition 8.
Order #4010.
Price $15.
 


'317. H.M.S. Cambridge in Hamoaze. Great-Gun Practice. A Broadside'. Ex Collection of Denis Pellerin.
Condition 8.
Order #4011.
Price $120.
 

Wilson first stereographed Roslyn (sometimes printed 'Roslin') in 1859 and returned in the 1860s for further views, some of which he assigned to the same numbers in his stock list. One of his problems was that only a maximum of six prints could be made from one negative per day as the exposure was by daylight. This reduced to four at most  in the winter months. As his business grew the demand for views increased dramatically and the only solution was to revisit old haunts and produce futher negatives which became variants of the same scene.
 


No 362. Interior of Roslyn Chapel - The Apprentice's Pillar.
Condition 9.
Order #4012.
Price $18.
 


366A. York Minster from the South West.
Condition. Light marks in sky and child's scribble on the back.
Order #4013.
Price $12.
 


366A. York Minster. Choir looking West.
Condition 9.
Order #4014.
Price $18.
 


374. York Minster. The Stone Screen.
Condition 7/8.
Order #4015.
Price $15.
 


379. Durham Cathedral from the River Side.
Condition 8.
Order #4016.
Price $18.
 


385. Durham Cathedral. The Galilee or Lady Chapel.
Condition 9.
Order #4017.
Price $22.
 


385. Peterborough Cathedral, West Front.
Condition 8.
Order #4018.
Price $18.
 


388. Peterborough Cathedral, The Nave.
Condition 9.
Order #4019.
Price $22.
 


390. Peterborough Cathedral, The Choir.
Condition 9.
Order #4020.
Price $18.
 


391. Peterboro' Cathedral, Roof of the Choir.
Condition 8.
Order #4021.
Price $18.
 


392. Peterboro' Cathedral, South Aisle of the Nave.
Condition. Very slight cut to bottom of mount.
Order #4022.
Price $18.
 


392. Peterboro' Cathedral, The Lady Chapel.
Condition 8/9.
Order #4023.
Price $18.
 


396. Westminster Abbey. South Transept.
Condition 9.
Order #4024.
Price $22.
 


398. Westminster Abbey. Roof of Henry VII Chapel. An astonishing view considering the limitations of light and materials.
Condition 8.
Order #4025.
Price $22.
 


409. Winchester Cathedral. Bishop Waynflete's Tomb, Lady Chapel.
Condition 8.
Order #4026.
Price $18.
 


443. Windsor Castle. The Garden Terrace.
Condition. Very light spots in sky.
Order #4027.
Price $22.
 


451. Lincoln Cathedral. Nave looking West.
Condition 10.
Order #4028.
Price $22.
 


457. St George's Chapel, Windsor. The Choir.
Condition 8.
Order #4029.
Price $18.
 


460. Beverley Minster. The Choir.
Condition. Mount very slightly split thru center, not affecting images.
Order #4030.
Price $19.
 


466. Lincoln Cathedral from the East.
Condition 8/9.
Order #4031.
Price $18.
 


No 470. Pass of Killikrankie, looking down. Dated Sept. 8th 1865.
Condition 8.
Order #4032.
Price $18.
 


No 473. Pass of Killikrankie, looking up.
Condition 8/9.
Order #4033.
Price $18.
 


No 474. In the Pass of Killlicrankie.
Condition 7 including very slight split on left side of mount.
Order #4034.
Price $12.
 
 


No 508. Loch Tummel.
Condition 10.
Order #4035.
Price $22.
 


No 528. Melrose Abbey - The East Window.
Condition 9.
Order #4036.
Price $18.
 


No 549. St George's Church, Doncaster. From the South West.
Condition. Light marks in sky and child's scribble on the back.
Order #4037.
Price $12.
 


No 553. Furness Abbey, from the East.
Condition 8/9.
Order #4038.
Price $18.
 


No 575. Abbotsford - The Entrance Hall.
Condition. One light surface scratch.
Order #4039.
Price $18.
 


No 576. Abbotsford - Bust of Scott by Chantrey.
Condition 8.
Order #4040.
Price $15.
 


No 623. Worcester Cathedral. The Cloisters.
Condition 9/10.
Order #4041.
Price $22.
 


No 630. Gloucester Cathedral. Choir, looking West.
Condition 9.
Order #4042.
Price $22.
 


No 636. Wells Cathedral. West Front.
Condition 9.
Order #4043.
Price $22.
 


No 639. Wells Cathedral. Nave, looking West.
Condition 9/10.
Order #4044.
Price $22.
 


No 641. Wells Cathedral. Choir, looking East.
Condition 9 but very slight ripples on right image.
Order #4045.
Price $22.
 


No 730. Ben Nevis from Banavie.  Excellent view.
Condition 9.
Order #4046.
Price $22.
 


No 798. Glasgow Cathedral - The Crypt.
Condition 8.
Order #4047.
Price $18.
 


No 802. Glasgow - George's Square. Interesting view.
Condition 6 (a fair amount of soiling).
Order #4048.
Price $12.
 

To order, note order # and price and click here
 

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