Wilkie was a friend of Turner, and the most original of a group of artists who popularised narrative scenes of everyday life. Wilkie studied seventeenth-century Dutch painting, but added freshly-observed gestures and expression, and chose topical subjects. These were sometimes based on contemporary history, but he also painted familiar life.
This picture of a baker distracted from his hot roast and pie was shown at the Royal Academy in 1821. It was conceived as a humbler counterpart to the news-reading theme of Wilkie's masterpiece, Chelsea Pensioners reading the Waterloo Despatch, which is now at Apsley House.
Gallery label, September 2004
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