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JAMES HARRISON WILSON (1837– )

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 695 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES HARRISON WILSON (1837– ), American cavalry soldier, was born at Shawneetown, Illinois, in 1837 and entered West Point military academy in 1855, graduating in 1860. He was appointed to the engineer branch of the United States army, served in the Port Royal and Fort Pulaski operations, being breveted major for his gallant conduct at Pulaski, 'was on M'Clellan's staff at Antietam as a lieutenant-colonel in 1862, and as a topographical engineer on the headquarters staff of the Army of the Tennessee during the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns. His services in the intricate operations before Vicksburg were rewarded by promotion to brigadier-general U.S.V. In 1864 he was appointed to command a division in Sheridan's cavalry corps, and played a distinguished part in the cavalry operations of the 4th to 6th of May during the battle of the Wilderness (for which he was breveted colonel U.S.A.), the so-called Richmond Raid, the operations on the Totopotomoy, &c. Later in 1864 he commanded the cavalry of Thomas's army in Tennessee. During the closing operations of the war he led a cavalry expedition on a grand scale through the South-Western states, occupying Selma, Montgomery and Macon, and capturing at different times nearly 7000 prisoners, including President Davis. He was promoted major-general of volunteers and breveted major-general U.S.A. shortly before the end of the war. Returning to duty in the regular army as a lieutenant-colonel of infantry for some years, he resigned in 1870 and engaged in engineering and railway construction. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he was appointed a major-general in the new volunteer army, and took part in the operations in Porto Rico. He served in the China expedition of woo as abrigadier-general and in 19o1 was placed on the retired list as a brigadier-general U.S.A. WILSON, RICHARD (1714—1782), English landscape painter, was born at Penegoes, Montgomeryshire, where his father was a clergyman, on the 1st of August 1714. His early taste for art was observed by a relative of his mother, Sir George Wynne, who in 1729 sent him to London to study under Thomas Wright, a little-known portrait painter of the time, by whom he was instructed for six years. He then started on his own account, and was soon in a good practice. Among his commissions was a full-length of the prince of Wales and the duke of York, painted for their tutor, the bishop of Norwich. Examples of his portraits may be studied in Greenwich Hospital, in the Garrick Club, and in various private collections. In 1749 Wilson visited Italy, where he spent six years. He had previously executed some landscapes, but it was now that the advice of Zuccarelli and Joseph Vernet decided him to adopt this department of art exclusively. He studied Claude and Poussin, but retained his own individuality, and produced some admirable views of Rome and the Campagna. In 1755 he returned to England, and became one of the first of English landscape painters. " Niobe," one of his most powerful works, was exhibited at the Society of Artists in 176o. On the establishment of the Royal Academy in 1768 he was appointed one of the original members, and he was a regular contributor to its exhibitions till 1780. He frequently executed replicas of his more important subjects, repeating some of them several times; in the figures which he introduced in his landscapes he was occasionally assisted by Mortimer and Hayman. During his lifetime his landscapes were never widely popular; his temper was consequently embittered by neglect, and so impoverished was he that he was obliged to seclude himself in an obscure, half-furnished room in Tottenham Court Road, London. In 1776, however, he obtained the post of librarian to the Academy; and by the death of a brother he acquired a small property near Llanferras, Denbigh-shire, to which he retired to spend his last days, and where he died suddenly in May 1782. After his death his fame increased, and in 1814 about seventy of his works were exhibited in the British Institution. The National Gallery, London, contains nine of his landscapes. The works of Wilson are skilled and learned compositions rather than direct transcripts from nature. His landscapes are treated with great breadth, and with a power of generalization which occasionally led to a disregard of detail. They are full of classical feeling and poetic sentiment; they possess noble qualities of colour, and of delicate silvern tone; and their handling is vigorous and easy, the work of a painter who was thoroughly master of his materials. See Studies and Designs by Richard Wilson, done at Rome in the year 1752 (Oxford, 1811); T. Wright, Some Account of the Life of Richard Wilson (London, 1824): Thomas Hastings, Etchings from the Works of Richard Wilson, with some Memoirs of his Life (London, 1825). Many of Wilson's best works were reproduced by Woollett and other engravers of the time.
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