Wilkie painted his first version of this subject in 1821. He returned to it over ten years later, in response to a commission from the 6th Duke of Bedford. This time he spent nearly two years working on a series of sketches to resolve the composition and gather details of the figures. However, when this picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1835, the critic of The Athenaeum described the finished painting as a 'hasty and happy' little picture.
Gallery label, September 2004
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