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Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841)

David Wilkie, who was born in Cults, Fife, and trained at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh, enjoyed recognition in London and abroad that was unequalled by any other Scottish artist. His principal legacy was the foundation of a Scottish school in art to match Sir Walter Scott’s creation of a Scottish literary genre. Yet Wilkie's paintings that derive from Scottish cultural influences form only a part of his total output, which took on an increasingly international flavour from 1827 onwards.

Blind Man's Buff by David Wilkie©

Wilkie’s early work was dominated by scenes of everyday life indebted to Dutch and Flemish genre painting and he fulfilled two high-profile commissions of this kind for the Prince Regent (later George IV), Blind-Man’s-Buff and The Penny Wedding. His most important royal commission, The Entrance of George IV to Holyroodhouse, commemorated the King's visit to Scotland in 1822 and in 1823 he was appointed his Majesty's Limner in Scotland. His tour of the Continent to recover from illness (1825-7) radically transformed his art. The first British artist to visit Spain after the Spanish War of Independence, Wilkie embraced contemporary, heroic themes with a broad new style to match. His new ‘international’ style was not popular at first and George IV’s decision to acquire six of his continental pictures proved crucial in the revival of his fortunes.

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