August 30 Joslyn Welcomes British Art Scholar John Wilson
Program begins at 6:30 PM; Cash bar opens at 5:00

Join us for a free public lecture, "The Madness of King George's Academy: Painting and Politics in 18th-century England" with British art scholar John Wilson, Ph.D. celebrating the special exhibition Treasures of British Art 1400-2000: The Berger Collection.

Nationally sanctioned formal academies of art have been a feature of European capitals for centuries but getting one established in Great Britain seemed close to impossible. While Florence’s Accademia was founded in 1563, only in 1769 was a group of artists successful in organizing an institution made permanent by King George III’s sanctioned approval. Establishing it took over a half-century of fits and starts and some may have thought it was madness to think it would ever come to fruition. “The Madness of King George’s Academy: Politics and Painting in 18th century England” tells the story of several of the greatest artists in British history, their work to establish the Royal Academy, and the role it played (and continues to play today) in the London art world.


After a career as a director and curator at museums across the United States, John Wilson is today an independent scholar, curator, and art collection consultant. Before his six years as executive director of San Diego’s Timken Museum of Art, a small collection of old masters, American paintings and Russian icons that was an inspiration for Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum, he was, from 2005-2008, director of curatorial affairs at Joslyn.

At the Timken Dr. Wilson expanded the visibility of an intimate discreet institution, increasing attendance by almost 60%, negotiating loans of Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks from London’s National Gallery and Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum for the museum’s 50th anniversary. At Joslyn, he noticed in storage Rembrandt’s Portrait of Dirck van Os and began the process of securing the attribution and conservation that was completed after his departure. He was the supervisor of the Maximilian Diaries project and among his acquisitions for the Joslyn was Nam June Paik’s popular Couch Potato. More recently, he organized the exhibition The Archaeologist’s Eye, of drawings of the Parthenon metopes, held at Creighton’s Lied Art Gallery in the winter and spring of 2015.

Before moving to Omaha Dr. Wilson was curator of painting and sculpture at the Cincinnati Art Museum and curator of European and American art and assistant professor of art history at the University of Kansas’s Spencer Museum of Art. Originally from Fort Worth, he has a PhD and MA in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and a BA in Art History from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Dr. Wilson is an acknowledged expert on eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century British art, is on the board of directors of the Berger Collection Educational Trust and an assessor for the Berger Book Prize for best book on the history of British art. He has published widely on topics ranging from antiquity to contemporary art and artists. He currently advises European and North American museums, corporate and private collections and families on art ownership, acquisitions, conservation, and collection research. He lives in San Diego.

This lecture is free and open to the public. Visitors wishing to view the special exhibition Treasures of British Art 1400-2000 must stop by the admissions desk to obtain a ticket. Tickets are free for members; $5 for general public on Thursday evenings.