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Sir David Wilkie Abroad

In 1825, Wilkie embarked on a two-year tour of the Continent, spending most of his time in Italy and Spain. He was deeply influenced by the work of the Old Masters that he studied on his travels such as Michelangelo, Titian, Murillo and Velásquez and his art was transformed. He was the first British artist to visit Spain after the Spanish War of Independence (1808-14), and his paintings embraced contemporary, heroic themes with a broad new style to match.

I Pifferai by Wilkie©

In Italy, Wilkie produced a series of paintings of pilgrims inspired by scenes of faith and devotion he encountered in Rome. His Spanish paintings dwell on incidents of heroic resistance to the French by local civilians and priests during the Spanish War of Independence. On his return to London Wilkie found his European paintings were not as popular as his earlier work. George IV’s decision to acquire two of his Italian and four of his Spanish pictures was instrumental in the revival of his fortunes.

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