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Sheepwashing before 1817

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This painting was based on sketches that Wilkie made around 1815 during a retreat to the Wiltshire countryside from his permanent home in London. It is believed to show a scene at Fisherton Delamere, near Salisbury. Shortly before the painting was exhibited at the British Institution in 1817, he wrote to the great art patron and amateur landscape painter Sir George Beaumont. Wilkie asserted that although landscape painting was entirely new to him, the picture was done with the sole object of teaching himself how to ‘paint an out-door scene with facility’. Wilkie was a great admirer of seventeenth century Dutch landscapes, and this practical scene of work and nature recalls the paintings of Jacob van Ruisdael and Meindert Hobbema, especially in the inclusion of the water-wheel motif.

Glossary Open

British Institution

The British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom was founded in 1805. It promoted the work of British artists and ran a gallery on London's Pall Mall, where it offered works for public sale. It closed in 1867.

British Institution


  • Acc. No. NG 1032
  • Medium Oil on panel
  • Size 90.00 x 137.00 cm (framed: 128.80 x 174.50 x 13.80 cm)
  • Credit Bequest of Hugh A. Laird 1911