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Sir David Wilkie: Artist

Posted in Art, Artist on Saturday, 30 July 2011

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Sir David Wilkie was a Scottish painter noted for his pictures of humble life and of Royalty.

picture, Sir David Wilkie, painter, artist, First Ear-Ring

The First Ear-Ring, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1835, painted by David Wilkie

David Wilkie was the son of the parish minister of Cults in Fife. He developed a love for art at an early age and, in 1799, after being educated at schools in Pitlessie, Kettle and Cupar, his father reluctantly agreed to his becoming a painter. Wilie was admitted to the Trustees’ Academy in Edinburgh where he studied under John Graham.

A diligent student with a fascination for sketching local life, his first major work was Pitlessie Fair, which included about 140 figures, many of them based on family and neighbours. He found regular work painting portraits in Cults before leaving for London, where he attended the Royal Academy Schools. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1806.

He was soon rewarded for his work, earning commissions from the Prince Regent and the King of Bavaria amongst others, and was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1809 and a full member in 1811.

In 1823, Wilkie was appointed Royal Limner for Scotland, a position which involved painting and sketching the King – George IV – and royal household; he held this position until his death, taking several years to complete his first commission, The Reception of the King at the Entrance of Holyrood Palace.

Seeking relief from the pressures of work, Wilkie travelled on the continent in 1825-28. These travels had a great influence on his later works and his interest in painting historical rather than contemporary scenes, although he continued to produce a great many portraits and commissions from royals. He was knighted in 1836.

In 1840, Wilkie travelled to the East and spent five weeks in Jerusalem. He fell ill on his return journey and died on board a ship off the coast of Gibraltar on 1 June 1841, his body consigned to the sea in the Bay of Gibraltar.

Many more pictures by Sir David Wilkie can be found at the Look and Learn picture library.

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