Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Wilkie, David
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Scottish painter. Active in London from 1805, he became famous for his depictions of everyday life, such as The Blind Fiddler (1806; Tate Gallery, London) and The Letter of Introduction (1813; National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh), executed in the 17th-century Dutch tradition.

Born in Cults, Fife, he was the son of a parish minister. He studied at the Trustees' Academy, Edinburgh, and the Royal Academy schools, but engravings after the 17th-century Dutch painters David Teniers and Adriaen van Ostade suggested the popular subjects in which he was to excel. The Village Politicians (1805; private collection) won instant success and was followed by such other works as The Blind Fiddler and The Penny Wedding (Royal Collection). In 1823 he was appointed king's limner in Scotland.

After 1825, when he visited Italy and Spain, his style changed under the influence of Velázquez and Murillo. He was made painter-in-ordinary to William IV in 1830. He died at sea during his return from travels in Turkey and Palestine, and his death was commemorated by J M W Turner in Peace: Burial at Sea (1842; Tate Gallery, London).

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Wilkie David (1785 - 1841)
A Biographical Dictionary of Artists, Andromeda

The Scottish painter Sir David Wilkie was born at Cults, Grampian, where his father was a minister. From 1799 to 1804 he trained...

Full text Article Wilkie, Sir, David (1785 - 1841)
The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of British Art

Wilkie was the most important genre painter in Britain in the early 19c. Combining a brilliant and detailed technique with...

Full text Article Wilkie, Sir, David (1785 - 1841)
The Bloomsbury Guide to Art

He was the son of a Fife minister, educated at the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh and at the Royal Academy schools. After...

See more from Credo