David Forrester Wilson – artist (1873-1950)

David Forrester Wilson was an artist who painted a mural for Glasgow City Chambers and worked at The Glasgow School of Art.

  • Date of joining: 14 October 1909
  • Membership No: 582, Proposal Book: Ordinary Members 1908-1913, (TD965/18)

David Forrester Wilson (1873-1950) went to school in The Gorbals and then attended Glasgow School of Art between 1892-3 and then 1899-1906.

According to the Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections catalogue he joined the staff in 1903 as a teaching assistant, won the Haldane Scholarship and travelled in 1905 to France, Italy, Belgium and London.

He then gradually worked his way up to Assistant Professor, then when Head of Drawing and Painting Maurice Greiffenhagen retired in 1928 Wilson managed the department while the then Director of the School, John D. Revel, acted as Head. When Revel left the School in 1932, Wilson was formally acknowledged as Head of the Department, a post he held until 1938.

As well as painting portraits and landscapes, in 1911 he was also commissioned to paint one of a series of large decorative panels in the banqueting hall of the Glasgow Municipal Buildings. It is called Called Time and History, and is symbolic of the great city unfolding its plans for a glorious future of industrial expansion.

Glasgow City Chambers Banqueting Hall. Michael D Beckwith – Wikimedia

He became an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in March 1922. The Herald, reporting Wilson’s election to the RSE, said the panel “bears testimony to his skill in the art of mural decoration … Mr Wilson has also distinguished himself as a portrait painter.”

You can see some of of his paintings on the Artwork UK website. Kelvingove Art Gallery in Glasgow has one of his paintings, called Faggots, which the Glasgow Corporation bought for £150 in 1915, the equivalent of about £15,500 today.

Several of his paintings were in the collection of American pop artist Andy Warhol.

“Wilson exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute from 1895-1950. From the RGI catalogues it was discovered that “The Wind” was exhibited there in 1919 (number 342 in the catalogue and priced £300). This is probably the first time it was on public show and at a fairly high price compared to Forrester’s other paintings. In the mid-twenties Wilson exhibited a succession of paintings with titles such as “The Song”, “The Echo” and so on. “The Wind” is illustrated in Vol. 5 of the Sotheby’s catalogue for the sale of Warhol’s estate, held April 29-30 1988. The work was listed as catalogue #2812 with a sales estimate of $10-15,000. It was supposedly one of Andy Warhol’s favourite paintings and this connection has meant that the painting was valued at £250,000 in the 1990s. Warhol also had several other Wilson paintings.”

Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections Catalogue

Wilson lived in Milngavie for much of his life before moving to Ayr.

Researcher: Lindsay


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