Sir David Wilkie, R.A. (1785-1841)
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Sir David Wilkie, R.A. (1785-1841)

Study of hands for 'Spanish Monks'

Sir David Wilkie, R.A. (1785-1841)
Study of hands for 'Spanish Monks'
signed and dated 'D Wilkie 1832' (lower right)
black chalk heightened with white on pale grey paper
11 x 8¾ in. (28 x 22.2 cm.)
with Colnaghi's, London, 1958.
Dr and Mrs Francis Springell; Sotheby's, London, 30 June 1986, lot 100.
Anon. sale; Sotheby's, London, 10 November 1994, lot 28 (sold £3,680).
with Spink-Leger, London.
Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, Old Master Drawings from the Collection of Dr and Mrs Francis Springwell, 1965, no. 101.
London, Spink-Leger, Master Drawings 17th to 20th Century, 1998, no. 28.
London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, David Wilkie 1785-1841: Painter of Everyday Life, 18 September - 1 December 2002, no. 57.
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Lot Essay

In 1825 the painter Eugene Delacroix visited Wilkie in his studio and reported 'I had disliked his finished paintings, but in point of fact, his sketches and rough drafts are beyond all praise'. As a draughtsman, Wilkie was both assiduous and scholarly, attempting compositional devices and resolving technical feats that he would later incorporate into larger oils.

This process was particularly developed subsequent to Wilkie's travels in Spain and Italy during the late 1820's. His preparatory drawings became fewer and yet more finished in themselves.

This is a study for Spanish Monks, a Scene witnessed in a Capuchin convent in Toledo, 1833. The picture provoked some consternation upon its Royal Academy exhibition. A monk kneels before his superior. The elder man leans forward; his arm is grasped by the ardent young confessor. A dark and passionate picture, it perhaps owes something to Zuberan's studies of hooded votaries and possesses a comparable, almost erotic, intensity. The painting was bought directly from the artist by the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne and is now in the collection of the Earl of Shelburne at Bowood House.


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