For his all'antica style, Joseph Wilton enjoyed popularity with the English crown and the nobles with an interest in ancient culture in the 1700s. But Wilton only practiced his art as long as it brought him financial recompense. When he inherited his father's large fortune, his interest in sculpture faded.
Wilton trained in Flanders and in Paris before traveling to Rome to study antiquities, a requirement of the time. There he assembled a collection of plaster casts and his own marble copies of antique sculpture; the collection was purchased by Charles Lennox, third duke of Richmond and Lennox, for Richmond House, London. By 1751, Wilton went on to Florence, Italy, where he soon gained a reputation for his copies of antiquities. On his return to London, Wilton was named co-director of Lennox's Richmond House gallery. He also established a large workshop with several assistants, to whom he often left the execution of large projects. As Statuary to His Majesty, Wilton was commissioned to produce a statue of George III in 1761. Seven years later he inherited the fortune that led to his dissolution. Within a few years he had abandoned sculpture, and by 1786 he declared bankruptcy.