Gilded Age Design: Excess and Reform
March 12, 2013
Richard Guy Wilson
Commonwealth Professor’s Chair in Architectural History, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
In this informal talk to be enjoyed with afternoon tea, Richard Guy Wilson, a respected architectural historian known widely for his appearances as host of America’s Castles, will explore the design revolution that occurred in the American home in the last half of the 19th century. He will give special reference to the art of showing off the house and the various attempts to reform the interior, discussing authors such as Oscar Wilde, Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and William Morris. Wilson, a 2013 scholar-in-residence at the Rollins College Winter Park Institute, will also give a related lecture on March 13 at Rollins entitled “Gilded Age Guerrilla: Edith Wharton’s Revolution in Literature and Architecture.”
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).