The Louvre Purchases a Painting by David Wilkie

David Wilkie (1785-1841)
Reverend David Wilkie and his Wife.
The Artist’s Parents
, 1807
Oil on Panel - 31 x 22 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Louvre

4/10/12 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée du Louvre - Since last 3 October and until 5 November, the Département des Peintures at the Louvre is featuring a work by David Wilkie (ill.) as the Painting of the Month. The Parisian museum thus continues to pursue its policy of extending its collection of British paintings, marked by the acquisition these last few years of masters previously missing from the holdings [1]. This was the case until now for David Wilkie, a Scottish artist, member of the Royal Academy, portraitist and genre painter who was very famous during his lifetime. A look through the database D’Outre-Manche of British works held in French museums shows that the artist is very rare in this country as there are only two portraits residing in public collections (a Self-Portrait in Pau and a Portrait of Thomas, 9th Earl of Kellie in Lille).

The painting acquired by the Louvre is a likeness of the artist’s parents. Small in size, painted on panel, this work was particularly dear to Wilkie who kept it with him his entire life.
David Wilkie was twenty-one when he produced this double portrait, in 1807. Due to its reduced format, its smooth finish partly because of the wood support as well as the very minutely rendered strokes, it evokes the contemporary French painting of Marguerite Gérard or Louis-Léopold Boilly but above all that of their common source of inspiration : Northern European artists of the Golden Age. Guillaume Faroult who wrote the text for this painting of the month from which we have drawn our information here and to which we refer our readers [2], correctly evokes Adriaen Van Ostade’s dominantly brown palette and also points out that another source might be an engraving by Jacob de Gheyn representing an elderly couple saying grace.
After the death of his father, Wilkie produced a second version of this painting which today resides at the National Gallery of Scotland.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 8 octobre 2012


[1] In a manner of speaking, since for the moment these are few in number, still awaiting the opening of the new rooms for English art, now seriously behind schedule.

[2] We find it unfortunate that, unless we are mistaken, the text is not available on the Louvre internet website. It is available free of charge at the reception desk under the pyramid. See also the article by Arthur S. Marks, "David Wilkie’s Portrait of his Parents", The Burlington Magazine, vol. 116, n° 853, April 1974.

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