About this artwork

Wilkie visited Sir Walter Scott and his family at their country home of Abbotsford in 1817. Scott is seated as though he is about to relate a story to the gathering of family and friends. Wilkie commented on the 'good humour and merriment' of everyone in the party. He exercised artistic licence, depicting Scott's daughters as bare footed country milkmaids, but also included a realistic portrayal of Scott's highland dog, a present from the Laird of Glengary. The landscape background recalls the Tweed Valley, with a distant view of Melrose. Painted on panel the picture has the character of an oil sketch.

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.