Sir David Wilkie

General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tippoo Sahib after having Captured Seringapatam, on the 4th May, 1799 (1839)

About this artwork

This enormous picture was commissioned after Sir David Baird’s death by his wife Lady Baird as a private memorial. It took four years to complete, and for Baird’s posthumous likeness, Wilkie turned to a sculpture by Laurence Macdonald (NG 2719). Baird had been in India with the British Army in 1779, and shortly after his arrival he was taken prisoner by Haidar 'Ali, the Indian ruler of the Mysore Kingdom. Imprisoned for four years, he was only released after the signing of the treaty of Mangalore. Baird remained in the army, returning to India in 1791 to participate in the third phase of the Anglo-Mysore War. Baird avenged himself by defeating Haidar 'Ali’s son, Tippoo Saib, at Seringapatam in 1792. Here, Baird is posed symbolically above the dungeon where he had been imprisoned.

  • title: General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tippoo Sahib after having Captured Seringapatam, on the 4th May, 1799
  • accession number: NG 2430
  • artist: Sir David WilkieScottish (1785 - 1841)
  • depicted: General Sir David Baird
  • gallery: Scottish National Gallery(On Display)
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Wars and Conflicts
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1839
  • measurements: 348.50 x 267.90 cm (framed: 398.30 x 322.70 x 20.00 cm)
  • credit line: Presented by Irvine Chalmers Watson, received 1985
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

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.