David Wilkie Wynfield (1837 - 1887)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

The painter and photographer David Wilkie Wynfield was born in 1837 in India, where his father was a soldier. He was named after the Scottish painter David Wilkie who was his great uncle and godfather. Wynfield returned to England with his family as a child. In 1856 he entered the art school run by James Mathew Leigh, and three years later his work was exhibited at the Royal Academy for the first time.

In the 1860s Wynfield was one of a group of artists known as the ‘St John’s Wood Clique’ after the London suburb where they lived. Other artists in this group included William Frederick Yeames, Philip Hermogenes Calderon, George Dunlop Leslie, Henry Stacy Marks, George Adolphus Storey, and John Evan Hodgson. Most of these artists specialised in paintings on medieval and Renaissance subjects, and they met once a week to devise compositions and discuss their work. The work of these artists was extremely popular with the public, if not always the critics.

Aside from his painting, Wynfield offered strong encouragement and promotion to artists. From 1867 he was on the committee of the Dudley Gallery in London (from 1867), while a series of photographs he made of contemporary artists in the 1860s and 1870s was a conscious attempt to publicise his contemporaries. It is for these photographs, rather than for his paintings, that Wynfield is chiefly remembered. Wynfield was for many years part of the 38th Middlesex regiment of the Artists’ volunteer rifles (set up in 1859–60 in the face of the perceived threat of a French invasion) and became a captain in the regiment in 1880. He died of tuberculosis in 1887.


Born: 1837 in India

Died: 1887

Nationality: British

Gender: Male

Works by David Wilkie Wynfield in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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