About this artwork

This drawing by Sir David Wilkie shows a group of six unidentified figures associated with the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822. Two of them wear Highland dress and one figure wears the uniform of the Royal Company of Archers. It is possible that the larger figure in the middle is the king himself. The first reigning monarch to come to Scotland for 150 years, his visit was largely stage-managed by Sir Walter Scott. Whilst Scots from throughout the country were urged to come to Edinburgh dressed in tartan, King George IV made an impression by wearing a kilt that was too short – well above the knees – and pink tights to hide his bare legs. Wilkie later painted a flattering full-length portrait of the king in kilt, which shows him slimmer and without tights.

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.