Come and visit our new collection website, featuring over 90,000 new object records and 35,000 newly digitised artworks
Pitlessie Fair 1804

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Painted when Wilkie was just nineteen, this ambitious 'portrait' of the annual May fair in Pitlessie Village demonstrated his remarkable talent and the kind of painting in which he was to excel. Its subject and character were radical departures from the established conventions of history painting, although it was equally demanding in its compositional organisation and variety of figures. Wilkie was inspired by examples of seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish paintings and also by Scottish folklore and cultural traditions celebrated in contemporary literature. He met with immediate success in London with this as his showpiece, prompting several prestigious commissions.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Commission, Composition


  • Acc. No. NG 1527
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 61.50 x 110.50 cm (framed: 88.6 x 137.2 x 12.40 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1921