Sir David Wilkie

Sir David Wilkie by John Jackson, RA. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Wilkie's blending of humor with sentiment in a narrative context, allowing for a strong infusion of local color, supplied a pattern for much Victorian genre painting. His example is especially evident in the work of the group of artists associated with the village of Cranbrook in Kent. Along with its senior member, Thomas Webster (1800-86), the circle included John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903), Frederick Daniel Hardy (1827-1911), George Bernard O'Neill (1828-1917), and A. E. Mulready (exhibited 1863-86). While they shared the preference of Wilkie and William Mulready for rural scenes (frequently including children at play), they also invaded the city in pursuit of topical subject-matter. The obscure A. E. Mulready, possibly a brother of William, relied extensively on urban material, as in 'A London Crossing Sweeper and a Flower Girl' (1884, London Museum). Graham Reynolds has recognized him as 'one of the most original artists of his time . . . He was a sort of Mayhew in paint, acting as a pictorial journalist of the less pretty aspects of nineteenth-century life and giving his opinion on it. But the comment is restrained, and his paintings are gay and vivacious and full of the vitality of East End life. — E. D. H. Johnson


Related material including Contemporary Criticism


Johnson, E. D. H. “Victorian Artists and the Victorian Milieu.” in The Victorian City: Images and Realities. Ed. H. J. Dyson and Michael Wolff. 2 vols. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973. Pp. 449-74.

Paintings and Drawings by Sir David Wilkie, 1785-1841 Foeward by John Woodward. Catalogue for an exhibition in Edinburgh and London, with no place or date indicated.

Last modified 28 November 2019