By Nicholas Tromans
This can be the 1st glossy booklet concerning the artist David Wilkie (1785-1841), the 1st British painter to develop into a global big name. in keeping with huge unique learn, the publication explores the ways that Wilkie's photos, so liked via his contemporaries, engaged with a number of cultural predicaments on the subject of their hearts. In a chain of thematic chapters, whose matters diversity some distance past the main points of Wilkie's personal occupation, Tromans exhibits how, via Wilkie's thrillingly unique paintings, British society used to be capable of reimagine its personal lifestyle, its historical past, and its multinational (Anglo-Scottish) nature. different subject matters coated contain Wilkie's roles in defining the border among portray and anatomy within the illustration of the human physique, and in remodeling the pleasures of connoisseurship from an elite to a well-liked viewers. For the 1st time, all of Wilkie's significant topic images are introduced jointly, reproduced and mentioned.
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Extra resources for David Wilkie: The People's Painter
In the sequel to Scotland’s Skaith, The Waes o’ War, Will does well as a soldier, loses a leg, and on being retired home is ‘Placed at length on chelsea’s bounty’, that is, given a pension from the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. Finally, he and Jean, who has been taken in by the aristocratic Buccleuch family, are happily and soberly reunited. We might thus find the seeds of aspects of several of Wilkie’s later pictures in this story as told over the two instalments: the effects of defaulting on rent in Distraining for Rent, the peg-legged ‘out-pensioner’ in the Chelsea Pensioners, and most immediately the subject of the Village Recruit.
61 Towards the end of his apology for Wilkie, Scott deliberately plays down the painter’s technical skill as if this would better point up the moral qualities of his art. Suggesting that his colouring and finishing are poor, Scott recommends that Wilkie should visit the current British Institution exhibition of Netherlandish Old Masters to learn a thing or two from them. 62 This simple phrase is very significant, for, in apparently condoning Scott’s belief that ‘within themselves they mean much’, it gives the rarest of insights into Wilkie’s own notion of how he himself saw his pictures.
Oil on canvas, 31 ϫ 26 in. 7 ϫ 66 cm). Tate, London [photo: Tate]. Wilkie was of course at this very time developing his own ale-house subject, the Village Holiday, complete with a drunken father surrounded by children, but which, when shown in 1812, was criticised for being, if anything, too pretty. Like Mulready, and like other genre painters to whom he was compared including the late George Morland and the watercolourist Thomas Heaphy, Wilkie took potentially uncomfortable subjects. 43 There was indeed a long-standing art-historical myth regarding this danger, going back at least as far as the Netherlandish painter Adriaen Brouwer, who notoriously was supposed to have developed a contempt for polite society and its values, preferring hard drinking with the kind of people who appear in his pictures.
David Wilkie: The People's Painter by Nicholas Tromans