Wikipedia writes about Stephen Wiltshire:

Wiltshire can look at a subject once and then draw an accurate and detailed picture of it. He frequently draws entire cities from memory, based on single, brief helicopter rides. For example, he produced a detailed drawing of four square miles of London after a single helicopter ride above that city. His nineteen-foot-long drawing of 305 square miles of New York City is based on a single twenty-minute helicopter ride.

Is it true that he made those painting only based on information from those helicopter rides and that those paintings are accurate?

  • 1
    Did you check the references in the Wikiepedia article?
    – liftarn
    Aug 31, 2016 at 7:18
  • @SVilcans : They are newspaper stories. I don't see in any of them evidence that the reporter actually checked how accurate Wiltshire happens to be.
    – Christian
    Aug 31, 2016 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


Stephen Wiltshire is considered as a savant by Dr. Darold Treffert and his drawings are described in detail here. The paintings by Stephen Wiltshire cannot be considered 100% accurate depictions of the information obtained from helicopter rides since observers such as the ones mentioned below have found constant changes done to the first initial sketch.

  1. Dr Oliver Sacks notes that there are always additions, subtractions or revisions to his paintings.

    As the neurologist and psychologist Dr Oliver Sacks, who's also monitored his career so far, puts it: "His pictures in no sense resemble copies or photographs, something mechanical and impersonal - there are always additions, subtractions, revisions, and, of course, Stephen's unmistakable style." So, if you look closely at Wiltshire's drawings of the London skyline - and compare them with the photographs specially taken by the Mail of exactly the same views - you will see that time after time he adds or subtracts details from his drawings. Source: Daily mail

  2. Joshua Foer notes in his Slate article that Stephen Wiltshire takes liberties in reproducing the viewed information in the paintings.

    Another savant, Stephen Wiltshire, has been called the "human camera" for his ability to create sketches of a scene after looking at it for just a few seconds. But even he doesn't have a truly photographic memory. His mind doesn't work like a Xerox. He takes liberties. Source: Kaavya Syndrome

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