This talk will examine the various stylistic approaches to design in the 19th century—including architecture, furniture, windows, and other forms—and the attempt to create a new style. Drawing upon the past, eclecticism had several approaches that ranged from a “scientific” reproduction to a “synthetic” employment of different motifs. Examined will be a variety of buildings and objects from the period 1840 to 1910 and how an attempt was made to create a new design based upon the past.
Wilson holds the Commonwealth Chair in Architectural History at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Wilson, a frequent lecturer for universities, museums and professional groups, has served as an advisor and commentator for a number of television programs on PBS, the History Channel, and A&E, including America’s Castles and American Experience. A prize-winning writer, he has also published many articles and books including: The American Renaissance (1979); McKim, Mead & White Architects (1983); The Machine Age in America (1986); The Making of Virginia Architecture (1992); Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village (1993, 2008); The University of Virginia: Campus Guide (1999); Richmond’s Monument Avenue (2001); The Society of Architectural Historians Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont (2002), The Colonial Revival House (2004); “Mysticism, Alchemy, and Architecture: Designing Laurelton Hall,” Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall: An Artist’s Country Estate (2006); Harbor Hill: Portrait of a House (2008) and Edith Wharton at Home: Life at the Mount (2012).
Among his academic honors, Wilson was the Thomas Jefferson Fellow at Cambridge University, England, in 2007, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 1984–85. In 1986 he was made an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He received the outstanding professor award at the University of Virginia in 2001 and has directed the Victorian Society in America Summer School for 31 years.
Wilson has been the curator and/or contributor to major museum exhibitions and catalogues including The American Renaissance, 1876–1917 (Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1979); “The Art that is Life”: The Arts and Crafts Movement in America (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1987); The Machine Age in America, 1918–1941 (Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1986); and The Making of Virginia Architecture (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1992).
His current projects include research on Thomas Jefferson’s time in Europe and its impact upon his architecture and an exhibit on the Colonial Revival with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and others.