- Museum number
Portrait of Sir David Wilson, W.L.., three-quarter profile to right, head turned, eyes looking full, arms folded across chest, wearing striped tie and lounge suit. Sketch of colonnade top r.
Oil painting on canvas
- Production date
Height: 1520 millimetres
Width: 915 millimetres (C Terrey)
- Curator's comments
- The portrait was commissioned by the Museum’s Trustees to mark the retirement of Sir David Wilson, Director of the British Museum 1977-1992. Sir David, a distinguished Anglo-Saxon and Viking scholar, was an Assistant Keeper at the Museum 1954-64. He then moved to the University of London where he became Professor of Medieval Archaeology and Head of the Department of Scandinavian Studies, before returning to the Museum as Director. During his Directorship the Museum developed its modern collections. A major exhibition on the Vikings, successful both in terms of scholarship and visitor numbers, took place in 1980. The fabric of the building was repaired, many new exhibition galleries were opened and private fund raising expanded greatly. The Museum also began to extend its international contacts. In retirement Sir David produced a definitive history of the Museum, travelled and lectured widely in Europe and carried out research and publication on the Vikings in the Isle of Man. A sketch of the BM’s Smirke colonnade is shown in the top right hand corner of the painting.
This portrait by Allen Jones, RA (Royal Academy nominee on the Board of Trustees, b. 1937) was commissioned by the Board to hang in the Boardroom to mark the Directorship of Sir David Wilson (January 1977-January 1992). It is the second in a series provided by Royal Academy nominees on the Board, the others being by Dame Elisabeth Frink (bust of Sir John Pope Hennessy) and Tom Phillips RA (portrait of Dr Robert Anderson).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
New Wing Boardroom (to 2003)
Exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition?
Trustees' Strongroom (in storage)
- For most recent condition report see Lynne Harrison, DCDS 2.8.05.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The portrait was commissioned by the Board of Trustees, to continue a tradition of displaying portraits of Principal Librarians and Directors which dates back to the 18th century. It marked the retirement of Sir David Wilson in January 2002.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number