On Display SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY
- Scottish Art
This enormous picture was commissioned after Sir David Baird’s death by his wife Lady Baird as a private memorial. It took four years to complete, and for Baird’s posthumous likeness, Wilkie turned to a sculpture by Laurence Macdonald (NG 2719). Baird had been in India with the British Army in 1779, and shortly after his arrival he was taken prisoner by Haidar 'Ali, the Indian ruler of the Mysore Kingdom. Imprisoned for four years, he was only released after the signing of the treaty of Mangalore. Baird remained in the army, returning to India in 1791 to participate in the third phase of the Anglo-Mysore War. Baird avenged himself by defeating Haidar 'Ali’s son, Tippoo Saib, at Seringapatam in 1792. Here, Baird is posed symbolically above the dungeon where he had been imprisoned.