Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Robert Arthur Wilson (1884–1979)   BIOGRAPHY

Colour Wheel, 1919
Framed (ref: 505)
Signed and dated
Oil on canvas, 13 x 12 1/4 in. (33 x 31 cm.)


Provenance: the artist’s family

‘Great advances were made by the artists of the last generation in the treatment of form and of colour, it is doubtful whether the twentieth century will not be marked by certain discoveries’ (James Wood, introduction to R.A. Wilson: Exhibition of Paintings and Colour Studies, exh. cat., Guild of Decorators Syndicate, London, May 1922).

Exploring colour harmony was central to Wilson’s work and a subject on which he wrote and lectured. 

‘Colour: its meaning and use, logic,mystery, symbolism and power’ was the title of a BBC radio broadcast talk, given by Wilson in May 1920. Although Colour Wheel shows an awareness of Chevruel's colour theories, its broader symbolism might equally relate to the void left by the war and the power of renewal as suggested by the continuous form of a circle.

His paintings were much studied by art students of the period, and were part of a wider discourse that was taking place at the time, led by intellectual luminaries such as James Wood.

Literature: Eye-Music, Kandinsky, Klee and all that Jazz, Frances Guy, Pallant House, Chichester, 2007, p. 96-99


Robert Arthur Wilson (1884–1979)

Painter in oil, tempera and watercolour, printmaker and teacher, horn in Monk Wearmouth, County Durharrr. He was apprenticed to a sign-writer until 21, studying part-time at Sunderland School of Art. A Government National Scholarship took him to the Royal College of Art where he won a scholarship. Then studied at Académie Julian, in Paris, and under Percyval Tudor-Hart, a major influence. Married the painter Stella Louise Wilson and was the father of the artist Arthur Wilson, Taught part-time in Surrey and London art schools. Showed RA, Paris Salon and SGA and had a series of solo exhibitions including Sunderland Art Gallery, notably in 1965. Wrote on tempera and the use of colour and in 1972 privately published his Memoirs of an Individualist. British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum hold his work, which has an honest, art-and-crafts complexion. R A Wilson, as he liked to be known, lived in Bletchingley. Surrey.

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