About this artwork

In this drawing Wilkie has planned in detail the exact positioning and actions of the hands for both the young man and the older gentleman in his finished painting (NG 1890). The gestures of the hands in the final painting play an important role in expressing the awkwardness of the situation. The young man’s right hand hangs uneasily at his side and nervously fiddles with a pair of gloves, while the older man’s loose, hesitant hold on the letter indicates his feelings of apprehension and distrust.

Updated before 2020

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Sir David Wilkie

Sir David Wilkie