Biography: Very little is known of the life and work of George Wilson. He was born in Banffshire in 1848, the son of a factor to the Earl of Seafield. One of eleven children, he was educated in Aberdeen, followed by a brief stint at Edinburgh University. Realizing his artistic leanings, he moved to London and attended the Heatherly School of Art, the Royal Academy Schools, and the Slade. In London he made the acquaintance of John Butler Yeats (father of the poet), John Trivett Nettleship, Sydney Hall, and Edwin Ellis, with whom he formed an artistically aligned group that called itself "The Brotherhood." Their aims were loose at best, but the group supported and encouraged him in his artistic endeavors.
Wilson was unwell and depressed for a significant portion of his life. These spells of self-doubt and moodiness inspired the poetic, ethereal visions that are captured in his paintings, such as Alastor (exhibited 1878, Royal Academy) and Spring Witch. He remained in London for most of his life and traveled regularly, chiefly to sketch in Ireland and in his native Scotland. He also ventured abroad to Algiers and to Italy, his favorite destination. The influence of Italian Renaissance art, particularly the work of Sandro Botticelli, is particularly noticeable in his work.
George Wilson died in Castle Park, Huntly, on April 1, 1890, at the age of forty-one.
From "Biography of George Wilson (1848-1890)" by Stephen Wildman, in 'Waking Dreams: The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites from the Delaware Art Museum' (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 2004), p. 373.