Sir David Wilkie
- Extended catalogue entry
Regency Portraits Catalogue
Sir David Wilkie
by Sir David Wilkie
5 5/8 in. x 3 7/8 in. (143 mm x 98 mm)
This portraitback to top
The date of this self-portrait is secured by an entry in Wilkie's Journal for 28 December 1813: 'Sent off some pictures to my brother in India; viz. ... and three portraits of Thomas, Helen and myself. The pictures were all painted very thin, and with nearly one coat of colour. The vehicles used were gumption, but the three last with drying oil and mastic varnish' (Allan Cunningham, Life of Sir David Wilkie, 1843, I, p 387). This is confirmed by a letter from Wilkie's brother Thomas to his niece Sophia Winfield, 17 July 1858, 'having a very clear recollection of the painting of that as well as the one of myself and of their transmission to your father and mother in India'. Wilkie's sister Helen (Mrs Hunter) wrote on 21 July 1858: 'I am happy to assure you that the Picture in question is the portrait of Sir David Wilkie. It was painted by himself about the year 1816 or 17 [sic] at the request of my brother Captn Wilkie in India & sent out to him along with portraits of other members of our family. At Captn Wilkie's death [in 18241 it came into the possession of his eldest daughter Mrs Winfield whose property it now is' (letters dated July 1858 in NPG archive; Captain Wilkie's widow died in Edinburgh in 1828).
An oil painting of similar appearance and date was sold with an album of drawings and notes by Wilkie at Christie's 13 July 1971 (21) and is now in the Scottish NPG, almost a total wreck. Other self-portraits are in the Scottish NPG (two), in the Musée des Beaux Arts, Pau, formerly in the Peel collection, and at Bowhill (identity doubtful).
Physical descriptionback to top
Head and shoulders in grey coat, black waistcoat, white neckcloth and bow-tie; brown eyes, light brown hair, fresh rosy complexion, serious expression; plain brown background, no inscription.
Provenanceback to top
John Wilkie, the artist's brother, and bought by the NPG from his daughter, Sophia Mary Winfield, in 1858.
Exhibitionsback to top
British Institution, 1842 (87); 'Sir David Wilkie R.A.', National Gallery of Scotland, 1958 (13) and RA, 1958 (2).
Reproductionsback to top
Woodcut by monogrammist THW in Illustrated London News, 9 April, 1859, p 356.
This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.
View all known portraits for Sir David Wilkie
Watch our playlist exploring scientific techniques used by the Gallery to unlock the secrets behind our Tudor portraits.
Subjects and themes
Search the collection by themes - from pets to weddings!
Black History Month
Take a tour exploring our Collection created by Alayo Akinkugbe for Black History Month in 2020.
A Picture of Health
Learn about pioneers in medicine, health and social reform from 1840 to 1920.