Sir David Wilkie RA
The Death of Sir Philip Sidney
Medium: Pen & Ink
Size without frame: 2.75x3.75 in
Sir Philip Sidney was born at Penshurst Place in Kent in 1554. He was a celebrated English poet, courtier, scholar, politician and soldier of the Elizabethan period.
In 1586, he fought at the Battle of Zutphen for the Protestant cause against the Spanish. During the battle, he was wounded in the thigh and died of gangrene 26 days later. According to the story, he had removed his thigh armour when he noticed one of his soldiers not fully armoured, as he did not wish to be better armoured than his men. When he was lying wounded, he gave his water to a fellow wounded soldier, noting ‘Thy necessity is yet greater than mine’. As he lay dying, he composed a song to be sung on his death-bed. His body was returned to London and he was buried in the Old St Paul’s Cathedral. His funeral procession was one of the most elaborate ever staged, to the extent that it almost bankrupted his father-in-law, Francis Walsingham.
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.