About this artwork

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.

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Updated before 2020

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Sir David Wilkie

Sir David Wilkie