Stephen Wiltshire: artistic savant

Stephen Wiltshire, a young autistic man from London, has the phenomenal ability to accurately reproduce any scene shown to him. In this short film, he’s taken for a 45 minute helicopter trip of Rome, and then asked to draw a 5 1/2 yard (5 m) panoramic view of the city centre. The work takes him three days. Not once in this time does he get a second look at the city.

Incredibly, he works without any preliminary sketching. This is strongly reminiscent of Salieri’s description of Mozart’s manuscripts in the film Amadeus, “[…] they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head. Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation. And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.”

Stephen’s art is an almost exact reproduction of what he’s seen. The church of St Peter’s, the narrow side-streets, and even the intricate Colosseum are perfectly captured.

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