Born in London, England in 1808. Wilkins studied at the Royal Academy in London and exhibited portraits there before coming to the U.S. in the 1830s. He was a resident of Peoria, IL in 1837, visited New Orleans in 1842-43 and then settled in St Louis, MO. Caught up with gold fever, he joined the rush to California in 1849. After making the trek in a wagon train, he was in California for only a few weeks. Upon returning to St Louis, he had 200 sketches of the Overland Trail, gold mining scenes, and views of Panama. Following months of painting, he produced a large panorama which was shown in the Midwest during 1850-51. He later returned to portraiture and spent his last years in Illinois. Wilkins died there on June 18, 1888.
Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"New York Historical Society's Dictionary of Artists in America
(Groce, George C. and David H. Wallace); An Artist on the Overland Trail (Huntington Library, 1968).Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here