After flying just once over Mexico City, artist Stephen Wiltshire drew the entire cityscape from memory on a 13-foot canvas.
Stephen Wiltshire is one of Britain’s best-known artists. His commissions have a four- to an eight-month waiting list, and videos of him sketching panoramic cityscapes on a perfect scale tend to go viral. But when Stephen was in school, his teachers didn’t know what to do with him. Diagnosed with autism at age three, he didn’t say his first word (“paper”) until age five. Still, as a child, Stephen could sketch stunningly accurate images of wildlife and caricatures of his teachers.
Later he began drawing the buildings he was seeing around London with impressive detail. His older sister Annette would take him to the home of a school friend who lived on the 14th floor of an apartment building, so he could see a sprawling view of the city. He marveled at its layout and landmarks. From that point on, she says, “his passion became obsessive.”
In 1989, he visited Venice and drew his first panorama. From then on, Stephen became known for his incredibly detailed cityscapes, each done from memory with hundreds of streets, landmarks, and other minutiae in perfect scale. He drew cities around the world, from Jerusalem to Sydney, even New York. His latest project brought Mexico City to life on a 13-foot canvas.