About this artwork

Wilkie conveys magnificently, in this small sketch, the colourful pomp and ceremony of King George IV's arrival at Holyrood House in Edinburgh in 1822. A fanfare of trumpets sounds as the kneeling Duke of Hamilton presents the keys of the palace to the king. Other nobles in attendance include the traditional custodians of the Honours of Scotland: the Crown, the Sceptre and the Sword of State. Brilliant touches of red, gold and white enrich the royal event unfolding before the theatrical backdrop of the palace architecture. Wilkie painted this as a preparatory study for his larger panel, now at Holyrood.

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.