Sir David Wilkie
A study for Sir David Baird
Medium: Pen & Ink
Size without frame: 7.25x4.75
This is a preparatory sketch for the oil hanging in the Scottish National Gallery and shows Baird posing symbolically above the dungeon where he had been imprisoned by Haider Ali.
While sketching in Perthshire in 1834, Wilkie had been commissioned by Lady Baird, Fern Tower, to paint ‘Sir David Baird discovering the Tomb of Tippoo Sahib’, completed in 1838.
Born 1785 in Cults, Fife. Educated at the Parish School and then enrolled at the Trustees Academy, Edinburgh when only 14. His first success came when he was 18, winning ten guineas for a painting ‘Calisto in the Bath of Diana’.
In 1809 he was elected ARA when only 24, and by 1812 had become an RA.
He travelled to Paris in 1814 and the Netherlands in 1816 where he made first-hand acquaintance with the works of Teniers, Brouwers and especially Rembrandt.
In 1822 he embarked upon the ‘Entry of King George IV to Holyrood’ although not completed until some years later. In 1825, suffering a conflict over his artistic development, stressed by overwork and several times bereaved, he suffered a nervous collapse. Unable to paint, he embarked on a journey to Italy, via Paris, taking the opportunity to study old masters in Dresden, Florence, Naples, Parma, Rome and eventually Spain. After his return, he forsook rustic genre in favour of more robust, firmer and quickly constructed compositions of weightier substance. In 1823 appointed King’s Limner for Scotland and in 1830 George IV made him Principal Painter in Ordinary. In 1836 William IV bestowed a knighthood upon him.