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Sir David Wilkie

The Letter of Introduction

Sir David Wilkie

Sir David Wilkie, a Scottish painter, was born in Cults manse in Fife in 1785. In 1799, he was sent to study at the Trustees’ Academy in Edinburgh and on his return home in 1804, painted his Pitlessie Fair. The Village Politicians (1806) was of great success which made him settle in London. In 1817, he visited Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford, and painted the family group now in the Scottish National Gallery.

His fame mainly rests on his genre pictures in the Dutch style, such as the Distraining for Rent (1815), The Penny Wedding (1818), The Letter of Introduction (1818) and others. Later he changed his style, tried to imitate the depth and richness of coloring of the old masters and chose more elevated historical subjects, like The Preaching of John Knox before the Lords of Congregation, 10 June 1559. He also painted portraits William Chalmers-Bethune, his wife Isabella Morison and their Daughter Isabella (1804), and was successful as an etcher.
In 1823, he was appointed King’s limner in Scotland, and in 1830 painter-in-ordinary to King William IV. In 1840, for his health, he visited Syria, Palestine and Egypt, but died on his voyage home.

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