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Diana Wilson Collection of Richard and Maria Cosway Materials: Finding Aid
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note on Diana G. Wilson
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Diana Wilson Collection of Richard and Maria Cosway Materials
    Dates (inclusive): 1779-1987
    Collection Number: mssCosway
    Collector: Wilson, Diana G., -1988.
    Extent: 11 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains materials on English artists Richard Cosway (1742-1821) and Maria Cosway (1760-1838) compiled by art history doctoral student Diana G. Wilson (1932-1988) for her dissertation (never completed) at the University of California, Los Angeles. Includes Wilson's correspondence, research files and notes, dissertation drafts, and reproductions of artwork and manuscripts. Note: all materials dating from the 18th and 19th centuries are reproductions.
    Language: English, Italian, and French.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Diana Wilson Collection of Richard and Maria Cosway Materials, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Diana G. Wilson, 1988.

    Biographical Note on Diana G. Wilson

    Art historian Diana Gammie Wilson (1932-1988) was the art reference librarian at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, from 1980 until her death on May 1, 1988. She was born in Illinois in May 1932. Wilson was a graduate student in art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and began working on a dissertation on English portrait painter Richard Cosway (1742-1821) in the mid-1970s, with Dr. Robert Wark serving as her advisor. In 1978, Wilson researched the Cosways in England and Italy.

    Processing/Project Information

    This collection was initially accessioned into the Huntington Art Reference Library. An initial box list was made, presumably at the time of acquisition, and the collection was further organized and an inventory created in January 2005. (Both of these documents are available in Box 1 of this collection.) In 2005, the Art Reference Library collections were merged into the main collection of the Huntington Library.
    Much of the arrangement of the materials is based on the original order in which the materials were received, though some items and folders have been rearranged to improve discoverability. Pencil notations on many of the items reflect this earlier organizational system. Copies of the two legacy inventories can be found at the beginning of Box 1.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains research materials on English portrait painter Richard Cosway (1742-1821) and his wife, English-Italian artist Maria Cosway (1760-1838), compiled by art historian Diana G. Wilson (1932-1988) for her doctoral dissertation (never completed) at the University of California, Los Angeles, from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s. The papers include Wilson's correspondence, research files and notes, dissertation drafts, and reproductions of artwork and manuscripts (including photocopies, photographs, negatives, slides, and microfilm). The materials expand from Wilson's research and development of a dissertation initially proposed as: "Richard Cosway: An investigation of the development of the role of the artist and the concept of portraiture in England, 1760-1820," but the collection includes materials about the lives and art of both Richard and Maria Cosway. Note: all materials dating from the 18th and 19th centuries are reproductions of originals.
    The research notes and photocopies reflect Wilson's efforts to develop lists of the Cosways' art and determine holdings within specific museums and libraries. There are typescript and handwritten drafts of portions of Wilson's dissertation (Box 2) and card files with research and bibliographic notes (Boxes 3-5). Wilson's correspondence includes drafts of her letters, chiefly requesting information and research materials, and responses from art historians, museum staff, scholars (Box 6). There are photocopies of secondary sources (both from monographs and periodicals) chiefly about the Cosways (Box 7), as well as miscellaneous handwritten lists and photocopied inventories of Cosway artwork and property (Box 8).
    The collection does include photocopies of original manuscripts including the handwritten 1820 inventory of the Cosway property (Box 8, Folders 6-7) and correspondence and manuscripts of the Cosways (chiefly related to Maria Cosway) (Box 9), as well as a microfilm reel (2 copies) that includes correspondence to and from Cosway in Italian, French, and English, as well as an 1828 diary (Box 11).
    There are photocopies and some prints of images of Cosway artwork, as well as proof sheets, film negatives, and some photographs of artwork chiefly photographed by Diana Wilson, including from collection at the Fondazione Cosway Maria, Lodi (Box 10). There are also 248 color slides both of Cosway art and unrelated art images presumably used in various presentations (Box 12).
    Within the collection, there is some discrepancy and overlap between the series. For example, while there is a series "Book and Article photocopies," additional article reproductions can be found in other series. Note: in the contents list, Wilson's name is often abbreviated as "DGW."


    The collection is arranged in the following series:
    • Wilson dissertation proposals, drafts, and research notes and cards (Boxes 1-5)
    • Wilson correspondence (Box 6)
    • Book and article photocopies (Box 7)
    • Catalogues and Lists of Cosway Artwork and Property (Box 8)
    • Cosway correspondence and manuscripts (reproductions and transcriptions) (Box 9, 11)
    • Cosway artwork (reproductions) (Boxes 10, 12)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Cosway, Richard, 1740-1821
    Cosway, Maria Hadfield, 1759-1838.
    Wilson, Diana G., -1988 -- Archives.
    Art historians -- United States --Archives.
    Artists -- Great Britain -- Biography.
    Miniature painters -- England.
    Painters -- England -- Biography.
    Women artists -- England -- Biography.


    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Negatives (photographs)
    Color slides.