Sir David Wilkie
The Blind Fiddler 1806

Artwork details

Sir David Wilkie 1785–1841
The Blind Fiddler
Date 1806
Medium Oil paint on mahogany
Dimensions Support: 578 x 794 mm
Acquisition Presented by Sir George Beaumont Bt 1826
Not on display

Display caption

In this early work by Scottish-born David Wilkie an itinerant fiddler is playing for a humble country family. Wilkie focuses on the listeners’ different expressions. Only two people seem to respond to the music: the baby and the boy on the right, who is imitating the fiddler by playing the bellows. When this picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy some critics thought the bust on the shelf represented a dissenting minister, and concluded that the family were nonconformists. The power of music to stir the passions of those supposedly suspicious of pleasure was thought to add to the painting’s subtlety.

February 2016

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