Wilkie exhibited this intimate portrait in 1813, when his reputation as a painter of character was already well-established. As a Scottish artist, Wilkie was keen to elevate the status of his national school. Here, however, he seems to draw on stereotypes, showing his character with a red nose and cheeks, auburn hair and thick eyebrows. These elements evoke the wildness associated with the Scots by many 19th-century English viewers. While Wilkie’s picture may appear to be taken from life, it also answered a demand for romanticised images of Scotland.
Gallery label, March 2011
Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.