About this artwork

Wilkie conveys the powerful emotion generated when a farmer and his large family, unable to pay the rent, are faced with eviction. The subject was topical for many tenant farmers faced financial crisis as rents rose but corn prices fell. The hardworking and despairing farmer's neighbours angrily protest on his behalf as the wealthily dressed, uncaring bailiff orders an inventory of contents and the imminent seizure of goods. Wilkie brilliantly proved here his ability to tackle serious subjects, but the painting had a mixed reception because of its potential political message and its sombre appearance.

Sir David Wilkie

Sir David Wilkie

Wilkie achieved international recognition for his highly original paintings of events and episodes from contemporary life. His skills as a narrator were evident in the facial expressions and poses of his characters, and in the informative detail he included. He was born in Fife, the son of a rural minister and began his formal artistic training at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh when he was fifteen. He then moved to London in 1805 and became a full member of the Royal Academy in 1811. He was appointed Painter to the King in 1830 and knighted in 1836.