August 13, 1889 - 1976
After graduating from Columbia University in 1914 with a degree in architecture, James Perry Wilson worked as a draftsman for nearly twenty years until he lost his job during the Depression. He had no formal training and was largely a self-taught landscape painter with some early help from his family, who were artistically inclined. Wilson began his career at the American Museum of Natural History in 1934 as an apprentice under William R. Leigh, who was working on the background paintings for the Akeley Hall of African Mammals. Wilson developed many innovative methods and techniques in background painting, including a grid system for the transfer of an undistorted landscape onto the curved diorama background. By the time of his retirement in 1957, Wilson had painted thirty-eight diorama backgrounds at the American Museum of Natural History. His background paintings can also be found at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut, and the Boston Museum of Science. (source: Steve Quinn, Windows on Nature, 2006)
Worked at the American Museum of Natural History.
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