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Sir David Wilkie RA, Study for 'The Pedlar'
Sir David Wilkie RA, Study for 'The Pedlar'

Study for 'The Pedlar', by 1817

Sir David Wilkie RA (1785 - 1841)

RA Collection: Art

A pen and ink study, for 'The Pedlar' (1817; Yale Center for British Art), a painting which has been described as a dramatisation of 'the painful process of the transferral of money from one man to another via the intermediary of a group of women'. However, this study focuses instead on the interaction between the pedlar and three of the women, omitting the husband and wife altogether. Here, the grandmother and another old woman whisper about the price and remonstrate with the pedlar while a girl inspects the cloth he offers for sale. The pedlar, viewed in profile, shrugs to indicate that he cannot lower the cost. In the finished painting,Wilkie turned this figure around so that his expression can be seen more clearly.

These drawings by Sir David Wilkie are all mounted in an album of studies probably put together by the artist's brother. According to the artist and Royal Academy librarian Solomon Hart 'they are a portion of a series of sketches of pictures, which he [Wilkie] from time to time sent to a brother, an officer in the Indian Army. He, it seems, used to give them to his brother-officers' children, who bedaubed them with common watercolours. Such as escaped I had the good fortune to acquire for the Academy, from a sister of some of these juvenile artists' (Alexander Brodie ed., The Reminiscences of Solomon Alexander Hart R.A., London, 1882, p.66)

Included in the album are sketches relating to some of Wilkie's best-known works including 'The Penny Wedding' (1818; Royal collection), 'The Breakfast' (1817; Private collection) and 'Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Gazette of the Battle of Waterloo' (1818-22, Apsley House).

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Object details

Study for 'The Pedlar'
Sir David Wilkie RA (1785 - 1841)
by 1817
Object type
Pen and ink on cream wove paper

92 mm x 57 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Purchased from Sophy M. Patton in 1871 and Solomon Alexander Hart RA in 1871
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