Although not a Liverpool artist, Wilson is included among their ranks because many of his paintings suggest a Liverpool influence. He was essentially a painter of the Hull Marine School being based there for most of his career. Five of his paintings survive at the Town Docks Museum in Hull.
Wilson specialized in ship's portraiture, usually done in large scale watercolors. However, he also produced many fine oils. He appears to have moved around the country a great deal working on commissions in both Liverpool and London. Wilson is known to have exhibited often at the Royal Academy in London and was painting in Liverpool during the last part of the 19th century.
He contributed at least one picture with an unusual subject to the Royal Academy in 1870: "H.M.S. Monarch and the United States Plymouth Conveying the Remains of the Late Mr. George Peabody to America, Leaving the Channel" is today one of the best known of Wilson's works.