Wilkie, Hogarth, and Hazlitt: The Reading of a Will, its origins and legacy.
Fame he quickly discovered had its price. By 1818 unauthorized editions after his works had begun to appear, initially in France and subsequently in Germany. (3) But regardless of whether Wilkie was known from legitimate or pirated impressions, the various engravings that circulated not only confirmed but also encouraged his continental reputation. Moreover, they were instrumental in his obtaining a prestigious commission from a most eminent patron, Maximillian 1 Joseph, King of Bavaria. It is The Reading of a Will, 1820 (Figure 1), as he called it, the painting done to fulfill the royal commission that is the focus of the present study. This substantial work about legacy and inheritance came at a turning point in his career, at a time when Wilkie was rethinking his role as a depicter of humorous lower class domestic life, the very sort of paintings upon which his fame had been built. Importantly, Reading a Will also brings into focus the issue of the Hogarthian revival of the early nineteenth century and in particular its effect on Wilkie and his assumed role, whether in his own mind or in the eyes of others, as William Hogarth's presumptive heir and successor in the pantheon of greats that constituted a national school, a revitalized British School of painting. (4)
In July 1818, the Marquis of Stafford called on Wilkie. A close associate of the Prince of Wales, the sometime Prince Regent and future George IV, Stafford was a prominent and wealthy supporter of the arts, one with an increasing commitment to the work of contemporary British artists and their supportive institutions. The extensive and eclectic collection he assembled at Cleveland House, his London seat, was one of the first to be opened to the public. He also was a patron of Wilkie's. After a long wait--he had previously deferred to the prince over a commission that finally resulted in The Penny Wedding, finished in 1819--Stafford had only recently obtained The Breakfast Party, 1817 (Figure 2), a modest scene of comfortable middle class life that recalls Terborch or Metsu and was indicative of Wilkie's wavering interest in portraying peasant life. (5) Of what passed between them during that visit the painter informed Raimbach. Stafford he recalled,
told me he had come on business that might be of some importance to me. That he had a commission from a foreign sovereign who had one of the finest galleries in Europe. That Lord Burghurst who had written to him from Munich had stated that the king of Bavaria was desirous of having a picture of mine. The subject, size, price, and time of painting to be determined by the Marquis of Stafford. And the picture is to be paid for when done by the Bavarian Ministers. (6)
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Stafford also "strongly" emphasized two points conveyed to him by Burghurst, properly John Fane, Lord Burghersh, British minister to the Court of Tuscany, who had passed through Bavaria when returning to his posting; the painting was to be "as fiercely English as possible and should have nothing in it but what is strictly in my own style of painting." That is, what the king wanted was what he regarded as an authentic and typical Wilkie painting, a scene of rural cottage life, much like those that he already was familiar with from prints. (7)
Indeed, writing Raimbach later the same month, Wilkie confirmed that the royal commission had been instigated by a set of engravings sent to the king by Baron Pfeffel, the Bavarian ambassador at London. (8) In this same letter he was already indicating a major stumbling block to his progress. Despite a declining interest in such images, to create a work in his own style was of course not an issue, but where he was faltering was in his ability to identify the requisite scene of English familiar life. Wilkie frequently had difficulty identifying original anecdotal material. Many of his subjects are derivative, being largely transformations from Netherlandish precedents into sometimes Scottish, English, or more often into what might be considered broadly appealing generic British settings. (9) Other material was suggested by friends or aspiring patrons. He hoped, he wrote Pfeffel, that he could find a subject like The Rent Day, which depicted tenant farmers assembled in their landlord's house for the annual ritual of paying rent and receiving in return a meal as an example of their benefactors paternalistic largesse, but as he added, "I have not yet fixed upon one and am rather perplexed abut it." (10) By the next month, whether of his own invention or following discussions with others, Wilkie was able to offer the king several possibilities. Writing to Stafford, who remained in London, he mentioned and included a now lost drawing of "A Family Party at Dinner," conceived perhaps as a pendant to Stafford's Breakfast, as well as suggesting the depiction of a fair or an election scene. (11) He also mentioned Pfeffel's suggestion of "a subject he thought peculiarly English, the Meeting of the Tenantry on the Heir to an Estate's coming of age." Suddenly, Wilkie interjected: "It has occurred to me, since making the enclosed sketch, that The Opening of a Will, a subject that presents a good deal of incident, might be tried upon the same plane of composition with The Dinner Party, and perhaps might be considered a more important subject." In any case The Opening of a Will was finally selected and confirming correspondence with Max Joseph ensued, including the forwarding of preliminary sketches. Finally, on February 18 the following year, Stafford, again acting on the monarch's behalf, called at Wilkie's painting room, "looked at my sketches of the Opening of the Will, which he thought a good subject for the picture of the King of Bavaria, and requested that I might go on to make the sketch in oil." (12) By then his ideas had progressed well beyond the modest composition he had originally considered.
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Some measure of the importance with which a flattered Wilkie held the king's commission comes from the realization that in taking up Reading a Will he temporarily abandoned what otherwise was his largest and most significant work of these years, Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Gazette of the Battle of Waterloo. (13) An August 1816 commemorative commission from the Duke of Wellington, the painting, the celebration of an historic wartime event translated to the home front, was ostensibly finished in the summer of 1818, but months later when revealed to the duke significant changes were requested, notably the inclusion of "more of the soldiers of the present day, instead of those I had put of a half century ago" (Life of Wilkie 2:17 [March 7, 1819]). However, on receiving the Bavarian directive Wilkie chose to put Wellington's unfinished canvas aside in favor of the king's selection. (14) Work on the Chelsea Pensioners was not resumed till after Reading a Will had been dispatched to Munich. Completed finally in 1821 the duke's painting was successfully shown at the Academy the following year.
When the oil sketch had Stafford's approval Wilkie proceeded with the final version. (15) Various compositional problems ensued. In October he already notes making "considerable alterations," and the following month he informed his most important early patron, Sir George Beaumont, "The Will I find a laborious subject." (16) But he persevered and completed the painting in sufficient time for the April 1820 opening of the RA's annual exhibition. (17) On calling at the Academy during the varnishing days that preceded the official opening, Wilkie was pleased to discover Reading a Will "at the center on the fireplace side, where it was hung in a very favourable position. Various of the members," he added, "assured me that they thought it my best picture" (Life of Wilkie 2:29 [April 22, 1820]). Their laudatory opinions were reiterated in the journalists' reviews, but there also was a lament that "one of his ablest pictures" was about to leave "his native country." (18) Certainly the Prince of Wales regretted its forthcoming departure and through the agency of Thomas Lawrence he sought to retain the original while a duplicate might be shipped off to Max Joseph. His proposal came to naught and in September 1820 Reading a Will was finally dispatched to Bavaria. (19) In payment Wilkie received four hundred louis d'or and by agreement, revealing his increasing business acumen, he retained the engraving rights for himself (Life of Wilkie 2: 40-41). A brief note from the King's private secretary early the next year informed him that " il a fait un plaisir inexprimable au Roi. Sa M[ajesti]e l'a fait placer dans sa chamber a coucher, ou tout le monde admire le beau travails de cet artiste celebre" (Life of Wilkie 2: 52). Reframed to the king's design, it was hung, as noted, to its best advantage in the king's bedroom amidst works by such Netherlandish masters as Teniers, Ruysdael and Wouvermans.
Despite the almost revelatory manner in which Wilkie first disclosed the subject, his settling on the reading of a will was far from being a random choice. Besides the role of friends in its determination, there was a sufficient legacy of representations and literary passages describing such an incident to not only provoke his choice, but also to authenticate its requisite national character. Interestingly, the actuality of the formal reading of a will was not a legally mandated occurrence, but was instead a tradition, an event born out of convenience. The procedure probably originated from the convenience of having an otherwise widely dispersed body of presumed and aspiring legatees gathered together for a funeral. (20) What better time or place for all to afterwards assemble in the presence of a lawyer or notary and affirm the validity of the deceased's last will and testament, followed by the pronouncements that made known any final bequests to the assembled family, friends and retainers. In any case the variety of characters with their respective fates drawn together by such occasions was enough to have already achieved a legitimacy of artistic representation.
The initial idea for painting such a scene came from the comic actors John Bannister and John Liston, whom Wilkie met soon after arriving in London, probably through Beaumont. A distinguished amateur actor in his youth, Beaumont had known Bannister for many years. Certainly Bannister who had initially trained as a painter, albeit only briefly, seems to have been early drawn to Wilkie's work. Through the succeeding years he and Liston were often in touch with the painter and Liston on occasion even sat for him. (21) Made during a social call, December 6, 1808, Wilkie noted their suggestion in his diary, calling it "an excellent idea" to which he added "I am much obliged to them for suggesting it" (Life of Wilkie 1: 212). Regardless of the vitality of memory it was another eleven years before he acted on their proposal and by then he was no doubt more prompted to take up the subject by two paintings that had been included in earlier RA annual exhibitions. (22) Shown in 1811 and thought to represent the inheritance of a young naval officer, Edward Bird's The Reading of the Will Concluded (Figure 3), was situated in a well appointed library that included amongst its details a strong box, a feature that was retained by virtually everyone else who subsequently took up the subjects. (23) The 1812 Academy exhibition included William Home Lizars' Reading the Will (Figure 4), which had been shown the previous year in Edinburgh at the Incorporated Society of Artists. With his interest in art and residing conveniently in London Baron Pfeffel very likely knew one or both these paintings and in the case of the Lizars possibly the December 1813 engraving as well. (24) On his writing to the king a recollection of either picture would have confirmed the requisite Englishness. Wilkie too certainly knew both works, but more significantly he also knew both painters and their prior relationships unquestionably encouraged his eventual taking up of ostensibly the same subject. With regard to Bird the Reading a Will provided him with an opportunity to bring closure to what had been a deliberately staged and ongoing rivalry. By contrast, the challenge from Lizars was of a lesser and more coincidental sort.
In the emerging highly competitive and speculative art market of the early nineteenth century the importance of self-promotion and publicity in an ambitious artist's search for public recognition and with it a hoped for increase in sales of paintings and prints should not be underestimated. One consequence was a series of public rivalries between artists, some purposefully pursued and others more likely almost unintentional in nature. Given his rapid and acclaimed ascent, on several occasions it was Wilkie who was being challenged or doing the challenging. Bird, promoted by Robert Hartley Cromek, an unscrupulous schemer, had arrived in London in 1809 when he very successfully exhibited Good News at the RA, where Wilkie was represented by The Cut Finger at the RA. (25) The next year, rather than suffer humiliation in the face of Bird's submissions, Game of Put and Village Choristers Rehearsing an Anthem on Sunday, Wilkie, with his delicate health already adversely affected by this whole business and with no significant painting ready as a response, was encouraged by Beaumont and Benjamin West, the Academy's President, to withdraw his own submission, a hurriedly produced small and inconsequential essay, The Old Man with a Girl's Cap.
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In 1811, together with a portrait of A Gamekeeper, the same painting, renamed and retouched, but nevertheless still a lesser work, reappeared at the Academy as A Humorous Scene. Again Wilkie was overshadowed by Bird, this time decisively by the latter's The Reading of the Will Concluded, which attracted so much attention that another exhibitor, William Collins, fearing for the safety of his own adjoining painting, requested that a railing be installed or "it must inevitably meet with some accident from the people who are continually looking at Mr. Bird's painting." (26) The next year a hurt and embarrassed Wilkie, for he had only recently been elected a full Academician, took an entirely different even vindictive tack. At the RA he displayed only the oil sketch for The Village Holyday, a major picture promised to a prominent collector, John Julius Angerstein. (27) But across town, in rented rooms in Pall Mall, he held simultaneously a solo show where besides seeing the completed Village Holyday, his admirers also could view a selection of paintings dating back to his beginnings in Scotland. Whatever the cause, after 1813 when Bird removed himself to Bristol, any active rivalry between them subsided and that year at the Academy Wilkie's Blind Man's Buff, already promised to the Prince Regent, outdrew Bird's Hogarthian exercise, a sextet of paintings depicting incidents in the life of a country poacher. Nevertheless, regardless of the prestige attached to this first royal commission, he must have felt some humiliation in realizing that Blind Man's Buff was intended as a companion to an earlier princely purchase, Bird's Village Choristers.
Subsequently, besides departing London, Bird's interests changed and prior to his 1819 death he had largely abandoned common life, devoting himself instead almost exclusively to historical and religious subjects. (28) Yet for Wilkie, despite his own recent successes, the memory of his earlier humiliation, culminating as it had with Bird's Reading of the Will Concluded, must have painfully lingered on; sufficient it appears that in 1818 he took up the absent Bird's challenge yet again by offering a closely related subject for another prestigious royal commission, albeit not British but Bavarian.
By contrast, Lizar's challenge, if indeed it was conceived as such, was short lived, less pronounced and to all appearances certainly less calculated. A fellow Scot he was one of several painters known to Wilkie from their student days at the Trustee's Academy, Edinburgh, who eventually followed him south with hopes of replicating his own early success. Others were his friend and sometime engraver, John Burnet, who arrived in London in 1806, Alexander Carse, who came in 1813 and was gone c. 1820, and Alexander Fraser, who also arrived in 1813, and was for a time Wilkie's studio assistant. Although ostensibly all were friends and mutual admirers, coincidentally there are sufficient occasional overlaps in their subject choices and relationships to indicate that to varying degrees they too were rivals. (29) Working in a similar manner, by providing widely appealing scenes from common life, they sought to take advantage of a taste and market which Wilkie had been instrumental in creating.
Lizar's time in London was unexpectedly brief. His move south must have been encouraged by the successful reception of Reading the Will and a second painting A Scotch Wedding, also included in the 1812 Academy exhibition. (30) Within months of his arrival his father died and for the benefit of his mother and younger siblings he abandoned his London aspirations and returned home to take charge of the family's engraving and printing business. (31) Already and despite several years interval Wilkie had sought to respond to Lizars with the Penny Wedding, begun in 1817 for the Prince Regent as a companion to the previously obtained Blind Man's Buff and shown at the Academy two years later. A subject whose recent pictorial history extended back to an earlier Scottish artist whom he admired, David Allan, Wilkie like Lizars had even thought of calling his painting The Scotch Wedding, before reverting to a distinctly colloquial Scottish title. (32) More significantly, he chose to treat his versions of the Reading a Will and The Penny Wedding with a moral gravity rather than with the broad loutish Netherlandish derived humor that had evidently appealed to Lizars.
Yet as much as Reading a Will should be regarded as yet another response to these recent contests, there is clear evidence that beyond reacting to such peers as Bird and Lizars, Wilkie also was responding to an even more significant challenge. Occurring not on the walls of an exhibition hall, but rather in the current critical literature, this contest manifested itself in a comparison that resulted not only in a reassessment of his ongoing reputation, but also threatened any claimed place in British art history, notably in any revived ideas of a British school. This time rather than wing for fame and position with a contemporary, the challenge may be said to have come from the grave, from William Hogarth whose own once waning reputation was then in the midst of a significant and prolonged revival.
Following his 1764 death, Hogarth's standing as a painter had gone into a steady decline. For connoisseurs his reputation suffered with the elevation of the Italian school, the practitioners of what Joshua Reynolds called the "Great Style," the promotion of which was heightened after 1768 with the founding of the RA and its declared mission to deliver English painting from its provincial biases and retardetaire tastes. He may have retained favor among lesser regarded genre painters, George Morland, for example, who, recalling Hogarth, had produced in the 1780S a number of moralizing multi-paneled narratives depicting the rise and fall of harlots or laborers. However, for those artists actively seeking to elevate the nation's taste and with it their own historical status, Hogarth was becoming a discredited master. (33) Early into the next century, together with the Netherlandish little masters, though in not so vitriolic a tone, he was regularly criticized in discourses delivered at the Academy by Reynolds as the founding president, and subsequently by various early Professors of Painting, notably James Barry, and John Opie, all of whose opinions found their way into print. Reynolds, for example, speaking to the Academy in 1770, could praise "painters who have applied themselves more particularly to low and vulgar characters, and who express with precision the various shades of passion, as they are exhibited in vulgar minds, (such as we see in the works of Hogarth,)," but, as he continued, since "their genius has been employed in low and confined subjects, the praise that we give must be as limited as its object." (34) In similarly disparaging language Reynolds then followed with a critical discussion of the boors depicted by Teniers, Ostade and Brouwer, all painters in whom Wilkie would regularly confirm his origins and with whom he was frequently favorably compared.
Reynolds' critical opinion of Hogarth persisted. He reappears in his fourteenth presidential discourse of 1788, which was ostensibly a tribute to the recently deceased Thomas Gainsborough, whom Reynolds saluted as an artist who well understood his own limits. Hogarth, by contrast, regardless of "all his extraordinary talents, was not blessed with this knowledge of his own deficiency; or of the bounds which were set to the extent of his own powers." What he lacked by this account was an ability to recognize his own strengths and weaknesses. He failed to realize that he was fated to be the master of a lesser genre, the dramatic format he had invented in which "domestick and familiar scenes of common life" were represented, rather than as a painter pursuing "the great historical style," in which he persisted but "for which his previous habits had by no means prepared him." (35)
Opie, lecturing "On Invention" in 1807 to an Academy audience that very likely included Wilkie, took a different tack, but one still derived from accepted theory with its emphasis on grand manner history painting. Hogarth he faulted for a lack of decorum, for his mixing the "heroic and sacred" with the "mean and trivial." As he stated: "Hogarth told his story as perfectly and with as much ingenuity, as Raphael; but their styles would bear no mixture as the meanness of character, and the strikes of wit, harmony, and satire with which the former abound, and which make so large a part of his merits, would by no means become the classical dignity and energetic gravity of the latter." (36) However, regardless of such pronouncements, by the time Opie spoke Hogarth's reputation was already being revived. Besides being encouraged by the nationalistic surge that accompanied the Napoleonic wars, the renewed interest in his work owed much to the ongoing restructuring of the British economy. With the gradual shift of wealth and power from the landowning aristocracy and gentry to the commercial and manufacturing sector, a new urban middle class appeared, which in turn spawned a new art buying public. In many ways this emerging audience with its largely untutored taste was much like the "Vulgar" masses earlier decried by Reynolds, those drawn to works in the "lowest style" who were always "pleased with what is natural, in the confined and misunderstood sense of the word." (37) Where once the eyes of such spectators had happily alighted on Hogarth's images, mostly through the print media, now at the Academy they found their pleasure in the paintings of Wilkie and his like-minded colleagues, who in turn increasingly saw themselves as Hogarth's artistic heirs, for it was upon his primacy and legacy that a revived British school would have to stand. (38) But in this ongoing professional succession it always was Wilkie who stood at their head, who became in turn Hogarth redivivus.
Like Hogarth, Wilkie too was committed to expanding his public by providing them with scenes drawn not from some remote literature, but from incidents that were understood to be taken from everyday life, even if they were sanitized or idealized to add to their palatability. Retaining a didactic function, Wilkie and his followers also celebrated such bourgeois values as thrift, family, sobriety, loyalty, labor, charity, and the orderly succession of property, the very sorts of moral beliefs that had earlier appealed to Hogarth and his audience. However, where Hogarth saw these values promulgated in an urban context, Wilkie and his friends, reacting adversely to the social transformations and urban blight and misery of industrialism, showed them preserved instead in the lives of an unaffected even if threatened and vanishing rural folk. (39) And unlike the exaggerated features often verging on caricature that are frequently essential to the success of Hogarth's satirical compositions, his figures are depicted with a more pronounced realism, with carefully posed naturalistic gestures and expressive physiognomies. The former were often dependent on a dramatic technique he obtained from his regular theater attendance and friendships with actors like Liston and Bannister. The latter Wilkie derived from his studies with the anatomist Charles Bell, who introduced him to the scientific study of facial expression, thus not only expanding the range of emotions he could represent, but also placing them on a carefully observed and believable basis. (40) Of comparable importance, just as the ongoing availability of engravings had been central to Hogarth's career and pecuniary success, Wilkie too came to understand the importance of controlling the circulation and production of reproductive prints. (41) Besides confirming the appeal of his subject matter, he realized that the wider availability, affordability and domestic scale of engravings all played a significant role in securing his own early fame.
Comparisons of Wilkie's and Hogarth's work began with his 1806 Royal Academy debut piece, The Village Politicians, a rural tavern scene in the Netherlandish manner that was already promised to the Earl of Mansfield. At the banquet that traditionally preceded the exhibition's official opening, Angerstein, who had only recently purchased the five canvases that comprised Hogarth's Marriage a la Mode, was heard to observe something to the effect that Wilkie's painting revealed "all the spirit of Teniers and the humour of Hogarth" (Life of Wilkie 1: 115). Once opened to the public, this private remark was echoed almost verbatim by a critic in the Morning Herald: "It has all the truth of Teniers, with all the humour of Hogarth." (42) The painting's successful reception immediately brought Wilkie a flurry of commissions, the most important of which came from Beaumont, who quickly became his champion and promoter. An amateur landscapist and prominent connoisseur, Beaumont was a remnant of the early days of the Academy. He maintained a strong commitment to the principles of Reynolds, whom he had known, and remained an avid supporter of history painting, even encouraging such late practitioners as Haydon and the American Washington Allston (Owen and Brown, Collector of Genius 162-64, 169, 175-78). But his tastes were eclectic and the revived interest in Hogarth and the British School were sufficient that in 1802 he even tried to buy The Rake's Progress from John Soane, who had only recently acquired the series. (43) As a kind of latter day Mycenas, between his fickle taste, patriotism, and a strong sense of self-promotion, Wilkie too came to his attention and he commissioned The Blind Fiddler, a country scene in which an itinerant blind fiddler, a peddler of notions, is shown with his family at the home of a shoemaker where they find temporary relief from the cold outside. (44)
Confirming his prescient taste, it must have given Beaumont great pleasure when in the course of a November 1806 tea party one of his guests, the architect George Dance, a founding member of the Academy, was overheard to remark of the recently begun Fiddler, "It had all the discrimination of Hogarth, & was ten times better painted." (45) And the next year his faith in the painter was further justified when The Blind Fiddler became the hit of the 1807 RA, thus consolidating Wilkie's reputation and further acknowledging Beaumont's role as a precocious arbiter of taste. On a more personal level, perhaps as an expression of his pleasure with the picture, at some unknown time through a gift Beaumont also chose to confirm his protege's widely acknowledged place as Hogarth's successor. In a gesture that recalls the ritual of succession through the passing of a baton or scepter to the next generation, Beaumont, "whose Superior Judgment and Liberality," Wilkie declared in the dedication of the 1812 Blind Fiddler engraving, "have led him to appreciate, and encourage early and extraordinary merit," presented him with a memento that he retained until his death, Hogarth's mahlstick. (46)
The linking of their names thusly, Wilkie's with Hogarth's, even if only by allusion, found fuller exposure in an 1808 catalogue to Stafford's Cleveland House pictures. In an appended essay to that volume the landscape architect Humphrey Repton recalled a recent visit to the collection in Wilkie's company. Referring to an Ostade painting of a lawyer in his study, he observes that "we see there exists a middle station between the grace of the Italian, and the total absence of grace in the Dutch school; and that in a faithful representation of nature, without elevation or depression, great excellence can be attained." (47) In England, just as he finds that Shakespeare "surpasses all poets in exact portraiture of nature character," this middle ground had been attained by Hogarth "who seems to have marked out a track to himself by delineating the passions in the features, and this appears to be the object in which the English School is most successful." Bringing these ideas up-to-date, Repton then followed with several remarks made no doubt with the works of his companion in mind: "The works of many living artists in this country are copies from nature, rather than from any other School; and as we may judge from two or three pictures lately produced in this country, we may hope to see the spirit and expression of Hogarth, the colouring of Teniers, and the high finishing of Gerrard Dow, unite in the work of one living artist." Named or not, the readers of this brief essay, assuredly a small and knowledgeable group, would have had little problem in identifying such a "living artist," for by then none but Wilkie had consistently warranted such comparisons. (48)
During these years, indeed prior to 1814, any comparison of Wilkie's and Hogarth's work rested with few exceptions on a direct knowledge of the former's paintings, but for the latter, dependence was on a body of engravings, whether from his own or some other's hand. Besides the few history paintings to be seen at such public venues as St. Bartholomew's Hospital or the Foundling Hospital, most of Hogarth's pictures, notably the comical history serials upon which the revived interest in his work would thrive, were in largely inaccessible private collections, though occasionally they also might be seen passing through the auction rooms. Consequently, for most people, the often reasonably priced reproductions of an expanding print culture satisfied their needs. As a body, Hogarth's engraved work remained obtainable, initially, as published by the artist's widow (d. 1789), and subsequently, in the collected editions of John Boydell's Original Works of Hogarth (London, 1790); John Ireland, Hogarth Illustrated (3 vols., London, 1791-1798); Samuel Ireland's not entirely reliable Graphic Illustrations (2 vols., London, 1794-1797); and John Nichols and George Steeven's The Genuine Works of William Hogarth (3 vols., London, 1808-1817). (49) Not surprisingly then, the first serious reappraisal of Hogarth to appear in the new century, Charles Lamb's 1811 often reprinted essay "On the Genius and Character of Hogarth," was wholly based on a knowledge of these prints, many of which hung in the "Hogarth Room" of Lamb's own home. (50) Neither Wilkie nor any of his contemporaries working in a similar manner is named in Lamb's article, nor are they even alluded to directly. However, much of what he had to say about Hogarth also could be understood as a vindication, even a manifesto for this latest generation of painters of common life. Like him they too wanted to be regarded as painters possessed of intellect, as explorers of ideas. Lamb denounces those who dismiss Hogarth as a "mere comic painter, as one of those whose chief ambition was to raise a laugh," that is, the Academicians who elevate the "Historical School" and consequently exclude him "as an artist of inferior and vulgar class. Those persons seem to me," he continues, "to confound the painting of subjects in common or vulgar life with their being a vulgar artist. The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into every picture would alone unvulgarise every subject which he might choose." At a later point, when again comparing historical painters to depicters of common life, that is those who are "set down in our minds for an artist of an inferior class," he pursues a similar line of redress by questioning "whether the quality of thought shewn by the latter may not more than level the distinction which their mere choice of subjects may seem to place between them; or whether in fact, from that very common life a great artist may not extract as deep an interest as another man from that which we are pleased to call history." If Hogarth, "one of the greatest ornaments of England," was Lamb's "great artist" of the past, who in the present when judged by these same criteria was better to succeed to such laurels than Wilkie? With their names frequently coupled in critical reviews and perhaps by then already possessed of Hogarth's mahlstick, he was undoubtedly already thinking of himself in similar successive terms. Almost certainly still others were making this same connection.
All talk of engravings aside, it was not until 1814, under the auspices of the BI, that the public were able to see an assembled body of Hogarth's paintings for the first time. Unlike the RA which was founded and controlled by artists, the Institution, established in 1805, was the invention of various connoisseurs, including Beaumont, Stafford, Bannister and Angerstein, all friends and patrons of Wilkie. Intended to encourage the sale of works by living British artists, everything shown at the annual exhibition had to be available for purchase. (51) The Institution also was meant to contribute to the revival of the British School through an ongoing commitment to history painting. Initially this was done by making old master works from the founders' collections available to students and working artists for study and copying after the season. Both Wilkie and Haydon are known to have taken advantage of the opportunity in 1809 (Fullerton, "Patronage and Pedagogy" 63). Eventually, however, to call attention "to British, in preference to foreign Art," the BI became more ambitious and it was decided to hold additional annual exhibitions where "finer pictures may teach the Collector what to value, and the Artists what to follow in the only branches of the art in which examples can instruct," as the catalog to the first such show, held in 1813 to honor Sir Joshua Reynolds, noted. (52) The following year there was a group exhibition which besides Richard Wilson, Thomas Gainsborough, and Johann Zoffany, included Hogarth, who the accompanying catalog observed had "adopted a new line of art, purely English." (53)
Days prior to his May 25th departure for France, Wilkie visited the 1814 exhibition. Nearly sixty Hogarth paintings were to be seen, including satiric works, historical pieces and portraits, many of which had been known previously only from engravings, though a few, notably those belonging to his patrons, Wilkie could have known first hand. (54) In introducing the works and emphasizing their didactic content the catalog took a familiar tack noting that Hogarth's "subjects generally convey useful moral lessons of morality, and are calculated to improve the man as well as the artist: and he teaches with effect because he delights while he instructs." (55) Summarizing the whole exhibition for a friend, Wilkie wrote that he admired the Gainsboroughs and Zoffanys, thought Wilson lacking in variety, but Hogarth, he declared "outshines every master that has gone before him." (56)
This unique assembly of pictures also prompted the first extended and considered critical study of Hogarth's paintings, an essay by William Hazlitt, who was then just emerging as a commentator on the arts. Initially several paragraphs dedicated to Hogarth were included in his general review of the BI group show that appeared in The Morning Chronicle in early May, 1814. The next month, in Leigh, John and Robert Hunt's periodical The Examiner, these comments were extended into his thoughtful essay "On Hogarth's 'Marriage a la Mode.'" (57) Hazlitt believed that with the transformation of the art audience during these years and the accompanying changing nature of the art they were viewing, notably the rise of genre painting and the associated declining interest in academic history painting, some assistance for dealing with such a varied transitional display would be welcomed. Since the reading of common life anecdotal paintings was increasingly acknowledged to be personal rather than textual, with storylines constructed by the artist that were in turn to be reconstructed through an experiential understanding of settings, figure types, expression, gesture, and still-life details, he believed guidance was needed to take the spectator beyond any immediately apparent narrative. By sharing his perceptions who better to lead the way to an "improvement of taste" than someone like himself, a "man of genius," sympathetic, yet cultivated and possessed of higher "degrees of sensibility." (58) A result would be a new criticism based on standards sufficient to subvert Reynolds' exhausted grand style theory and the persistent classical idealism of the founding Academicians that Hazlitt detested and which he believed to be entirely inadequate for assessing not only his friend Haydon's history paintings with their individualized and naturalized particularities of character, but also the realism, the "familiar style" not just of Hogarth, but potentially also of Wilkie and his followers. "The highest perfection of the art," he exclaimed, "depends, not on the separation, but on the union (as far as possible) of general truth, and effect with individual distinctness and accuracy." (59) Indeed, seeking some accommodation, he even goes so far as to declare that Hogarth's works are Epic, co-opting a category that extended beyond History and had only recently come into use. (60) What he sought was a new embracing concept of history painting, a redefined category that would prove suitable to the emerging works of his own times.
In defending Hogarth Hazlitt follows Lamb by asserting that beyond the comical there lurks a remarkable "power of invention" and a "wonderful knowledge of human life and manners." His subjects may be vulgar, but recalling the qualities that underlie history painting, he is unsurpassed, Hazlitt asserts, "in the research, the profundity, the absolute truth and precision of the delineation of character; in the invention of incident, in wit and humour; in the life, in which they are 'instinct in every part;' in everlasting variety and originality.... They stimulate the faculties as well as soothe them." Then, quoting Lamb's central premise that "Other pictures we see, Hogarth's we read," Hazlitt proceeds to guide his readers through various paintings from the exhibition, including not only Marriage a la Mode, which was central to his essay, but also The Rake's Progress, which interestingly he preferred as engravings, and the Election series. Nowhere does he make any comparisons with Wilkie, nor for that matter had he taken any notice of him in his previous newspaper reviews of the Academy and Institution. But, when writing of Chairing the Member, part of the Election series, he pointedly singles out "the persevering ecstasy of the hobbling Blind Fiddler," which easily evoked a comparison with The Blind Fiddler, still Wilkie's most popular painting.
The following year, March 5, 1815, however, Hazlitt's "On Mr. Wilkie's Pictures" appeared in The Champion. (61) Unlike the fleeting observations of ordinary newspaper reviewers this essay was the earliest sustained, albeit brief, published commentary on Wilkie's work. For painting Hazlitt had a special affinity, having once worked as an artist. Personally, he and Wilkie had at best only a passing acquaintance, though Wilkie had been friendly with Hazlitt's publishers, Leigh and John Hunt. (62) But Hazlitt was well known to Haydon and obtaining his letter of introduction, probably in late February, immediately prior to publication, he called at Wilkie's studio for a good look at the paintings and presumably a chat with the artist. If such a social call had led Wilkie to expect a positive review, he was in for a big letdown, for the article, which claims to be "a very general account," is essentially a comparison with Hogarth who remains Hazlitt's standard and from which he certainly comes out the lesser.
Hazlitt begins his essay by disagreeing with an eighteenth century tourist's reaction to a scene witnessed in a Welsh cottage. Glancing through a window, Archbishop Herring had observed a harpist with varied figures, men, women and children attentively gathered about him. It was a gathering, the clergyman concluded, that "Hogarth would give any price for." Not so claims Hazlitt. With Reynolds' earlier argument about limitations possibly in mind, he said of Hogarth that to the contrary, "there was no one who understood his own powers better, or more seldom went out of his way. His forte was satire, he painted the follies or vices of men, and we do not know that there is a single picture of his, containing a representation of merely natural or domestic scenery." Rather, such a bland scene he claims was better suited to Wilkie "an excellent painter of the present day," and by this account the resulting picture would make a "very delightful companion to his Blind Fiddler." Yet, as much as he admired this picture Hazlitt dismissively admits a preference for the evoked Welsh scene, which "clearly has the poetry on its side."
Continuing, Hazlitt demurs to an opinion of an otherwise unnamed "highest authority on art in this country," undoubtedly Beaumont whom he detested, who declared that Wilkie unites the "excellences of Hogarth to those of Teniers" but he also feels compelled to explain why he yields to this judgment. In doing so he actually damns more than he praises. Wilkie, he claims, "is a serious, prosaic, literal narrator of facts, and his pictures may be considered as diaries, or minutes of what is passing constantly about us." Rather than seeking moralizing images that could elevate the public's taste and behavior his interest is in "the most familiar scenes and transactions of life. He selects the commonest events and appearances of nature for his subjects; and trusts to their very commonness for the interest and amusement he is to excite." By contrast, although a comic painter, Hogarth's "pictures are not indifferent, unimpassioned descriptions of human nature, but rich exuberant satires upon it," he never "looks at an object but to find out a moral or a ludicrous effect. Wilkie never looks at any object but to see that it is there." Consequently, satisfying the superficial, there remains in his work "a mingled feeling of curiosity and admiration for the accuracy of the representation." By this account, offering little to elevate the mind, Wilkie at best seems to be directed to satisfying the eye and providing the occasional chuckle. Accordingly he would later dub Wilkie's manner the "pauper style." (63) And even then, recalling the most common comparison, Hazlitt concludes he does not even match up to Teniers. (64)
What exactly motivated this disparaging attack is unknown. Writing to William Wordsworth in April, 1817, Haydon recalled the "dreadful trick" Hazlitt had played in obtaining the introductory letter, because rather than the sympathetic review that might have been expected, "out came an infamous attack on Wilkie's genius!" (65) Certainly his taking up Wilkie was purposeful. Haydon saw it as a "cowardly attack on his genius and reputation" and thought it might have resulted from Wilkie's disregard for the Hunt brothers during their incarceration, 1813-1815, for having libeled the Prince of Wales in the Examiner. (66) But at another point Haydon intimates that the cause may just have been jealousy. As he exclaimed to Hazlitt during a sitting, "I told him that he always seemed angry in that subject [Art] because he had given it up, and that the Art would succeed in spite of his predictions" (Diary of Haydon 2:164 [November 3, 1816]). He had, to use another of Haydon's descriptions, "the malignant morbidity of early failure" and for whatever reason he was not happy seeing Wilkie succeed, especially someone for whose type of work he felt little real sympathy. (67) His scorn also may have been precipitated by Beaumont's promotion of Wilkie's career. Supportive of Hazlitt as a young painter, Beaumont had abandoned him "in disgust" following a political argument. Consequently as Hazlitt informed a friend, "I lost the expectation of gaining a patron." (68) But whatever the causes of Hazlitt's sharp criticisms, they do not preclude the validity and honesty of his observations, but what is most striking in his Wilkie essay is that he provides little evidence of any real knowledge of the artist's work.
When Hazlitt called, Wilkie was stylistically in a state of flux and what could be seen in his painting room is difficult to determine. Still committed to fulfilling several commissions for the peasant scenes upon which his reputation had been built, he also had begun to look elsewhere, to a whole new group of artists for inspiration. In 1813 for the Prince Regent he had completed and exhibited Blind Man's Buff. A subject much favored by rococo painters, although relocated here to a British public house rather than a French landscape, it is evident that along with some colleagues he also had begun to look admiringly at the work of Watteau. (69) The following year Wilkie returned to the Academy with the autobiographical Letter of Introduction, 1813, a reconstruction of an incident that occurred shortly after his arrival in London, and Love-making. From the Song of Duncan Gray, 1813, a courtship scene derived from Robert Burns's poem. (70) Such paintings indicate that amongst Netherlandish painters his interest had already shifted from Terriers, Ostade and their ilk to those like Terborch, Metsu and De Hooch, who depicted a comfortable middle class life, used more dramatic lighting and tended to add some spatial complexity. (71) All continued to garner appreciative remarks from the press. But when Hazlitt called, these works were gone, including apparently his most significant recent picture, Distraining for Rent (Figure 5). Begun in April 1814 and completed in sufficient time for the 1815 Academy exhibition, Hazlitt apparently never even got a glimpse of this large painting, observing only that it had been "just finished" and was "highly spoke of by those who have seen it." Like others, he would have viewed it at the Academy or the following year at the BI, too late in any case for inclusion in his article. Very likely all he saw were some oil sketches for future compositions and perhaps the beginnings of The Rabbit on a Wall, 1816, but besides the Distraining the other works he cites, The Blind Fiddler and The Rent Day, for example, reflect prior interests and date from several years earlier. Certainly, as a group they better served to prove his critical points about Wilkie's descriptive realism. (72)
What is striking, even ironic, is that just as Hazlitt was criticizing him in print for his unimaginative predictability, with Distraining for Rent at the Academy Wilkie was demonstrating an entirely unexpected transformation. As Raimbach later recalled, this pathetic representation of an eviction was his attempt to demonstrate "that he was not to be estimated merely as a painter of comic scenes," the very thing Hazlitt was accusing him of being. (73) It was as if he had anticipated the critic's remarks and prepared a response in advance. The Distraining also was an assertion of his professional independence, being an entirely speculative venture executed with no particular patron or price in mind. (74) Wilkie had previously dealt with such issues as labor, reward, charity, and generosity, but by imposing humor, as in The Rent Day, he had studiously avoided controversy and class conflict in favor of harmony and palatability. Now with an entirely original episode he took up what Raimbach described as a "factious subject" (Memoirs of Raimbach 163-64). The Napoleonic wars had initially brought prosperity to English agriculture, permitting the occasional peasant family a previously unknown social mobility. Leaving hovels they had moved to proper houses furnished with some of the trappings of middle class life, the four-poster bed and the odd Chippendale chair, for example, to confirm their newly elevated status. Then conditions turned sour and as the conflict waned so did the supporting economy. (75) Heavily indebted and with rents rising and crop prices falling, bankruptcies increased as farmers were unable to meet their pressing obligations to landlords and banks. A consequence was distraining, a legal eviction carried out as here in the presence of a bailiff and lawyer. Devoid of any of Wilkie's familiar humorous passages, the picture was an ambitious and serious work which through the careful delineation of physiognomy and dramatic gesture publicly disclosed the pathos and pains of an otherwise rarely witnessed private misfortune. (76)
[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]
Despite the contentious subject the painting was generally well received by the public and the press. By one account the Distraining was "a work far surpassing any of his former productions" (Press Cuttings, from English Newspapers 918, April 2, 1815). And despite Hazlitt's attempt to differentiate their work, the standard favorable comparison with Hogarth was inevitable. "No painter," it was observed, "with the exception of Hogarth, has ever, in our opinion, equaled Wilkie in the delineation of passion and character, as exhibited in the subordinated spheres of life." (77) A more probing review, however, tried to make sense of Wilkie's "last production" in the light of Hazlitt's recent article, which it was deemed had "under-rated our excellent artist." The unidentified critic, who signed himself "S", concurred that Wilkie did "not in any way provoke, or warrant a comparison with Hogarth; and so W. H. in one of his very able articles in the CHAMPION, most correctly said." If Hogarth, ever the superior painter, offered moral guidance to a "very artificial and complicated state of society," Wilkie it was claimed lacked such a "mental reach." Instead, his concern was with "the instincts, the feeling, the pleasures, the pains, the embarrassments of a very unartificial and simple one," the peasantry. Yet the writer did acknowledge this redemptive "last production." The Distraining, the picture Hazlitt had not even known at first hand, was different. "As a piece of feeling," he declared, "it is the highest of his works." And recalling Hogarth's didacticism, he added, "the lesson is one of care and integrity; the picture is a moral and eloquent tract." (78) Yet regardless of such a defensive response, the Distraining was far from a complete success.
For some the subject was not just difficult, but painful. As a newspaper reviewer reported, "we are not so well pleased with the picture before us as with Mr. Wilkie's former productions. The subject is ill chosen; there are a thousand incidents in domestic life which a painter of an imagination and talents like Mr. Wilkie, could have selected, with the view of expressing the various passion of human nature, and at the same time conveying to the spectator's mind some pleasing humour or instructive moral" (Press Cuttings, from English Newspapers 939, May, 1815). Returning yet again to Hogarth, this writer proffered a solution. Recalling The Rake's Progress, his extended tale of a young man's journey from wealth to debauchery and destitution, it was thought the Distraining might likewise become a scene in an unfolding saga of gullibility, impoverishment and the lessons to be learned from imprudence. Most personally offended, however, were the aristocrats and gentry, who having little sympathy for an overextended and suffering peasantry viewed the painting, instead, as a bitter attack on the legitimate pursuit of their economic interests. Beaumont, for example, thought Wilkie had erred by not making it clear that the family's fate resulted from the farmer's own dissipation (Life of Haydon I: 284).
Nevertheless, despite its highly charged reception, for 600 [pounds sterling] the Distraining was purchased directly from the Academy by the British Institution, who displayed it in the next year in their own rooms. The sale seems to have been prompted by a purported Catalogue Raisonee of the BI's 1815 exhibition of the Dutch and Flemish schools. An anonymous and proAcademy publication, the Catalogue expressed not just resentment over the Institution's failure to purchase outstanding works from the Academy as had been intended from its founding, but also faulted its commitment to old master exhibitions. (79) Although the Directors may have thought they were elevating public taste, by this account these displays were self-serving. At the expense of living British artists, they featured and validated second-rate works borrowed from their own collections. Beaumont especially, being a founding father of the BI, took this strongly worded pamphlet to be a personal attack. (80) In response, regardless of its offensive subject matter, together with Stafford, then the BI's Deputy-president, he arranged for the acquisition of his protege's painting. (81) Shown the following year, 1816, at the BI, at the behest probably of the Institution's landowning patrons, it was subsequently consigned to a basement where, removed from the public's view, it remained until 1822 when purchased by Raimbach for what proved to be an unsuccessful engraving. (82)
Regardless of Hazlitt's considered remarks and the often desultory responses of journalists and colleagues, the persistent associations with Hogarth probably convinced Wilkie, the possessor after all of the master's mahlstick, to continue thinking of himself as Hogarth redivivus, as Hogarth's legitimate heir. An 1816 incident further confirms his assumption of this persona. Returning from his excursion to the Low Countries, a brief sightseeing stopover was made at the port of Calais from whence he was to cross the Channel. Six decades earlier, taking advantage of the April 1748 peace that concluded the Seven Years War with France, Hogarth too had visited the city. Making a special visit to draw the municipal gates, a relic remaining from England's medieval occupation of the port, he had been arrested and accused of being a spy. Brought before a magistrate, on judgment he was held under house arrest until his departure. Once home Hogarth celebrated this episode in The Gate at Calais, a strongly anti-French and anti-Jacobite satirical painting, for this peace also effectively ended any Stuart claims to the English throne. A popular and often reprinted engraving, O The Roast Beef of Old England followed in March 1749, the title taken from a Henry Fielding patriotic song. Various publications made available a detailed description of the depicted incident, and there was a fictionalized account involving a painter, Pallett, arrested while drawing in Paris in Tobias Smollett's Peregrine Pickle (London, 1751). (83) More importantly for Wilkie the painting with an accompanying catalog explanation was included in the 1814 BI of Hogarth's work. (84) Over time, provoked no doubt by Hogarth's image, the gate at Calais had become an English pilgrimage site and not long after Wilkie too was drawn to pay homage to the site.
It was again a timely moment in Anglo-French relations. Napoleon had recently been defeated at Waterloo and Wilkie had just visited the battlefield. On reaching Calais, like his predecessor he too chose to sketch the city gate before sailing home. Obtaining permission to draw from the attending guard a crowd of curious onlookers was soon attracted. According to the account he conveyed to Raimbach of what then ensued, that gathering in turn quickly attracted the attention of a gendarme who upon questioning the artist denied any claims that authority to draw had been granted and asserted that to the contrary the taking of such drawings was forbidden. Like Hogarth before him, the assumption was that Wilkie was working with hostile intent and he was consequently escorted to see le mayor. On being assured that instead he was working only "for amusement," the mayor arranged for his immediate release. (85) Unlike Hogarth, however, Wilkie did not celebrate his encounter with a satirical painting. Nevertheless, the story of his arrest did circulate and according to Raimbach, it was believed that wishing "to re-enact the Hogarth drama," he had "put himself in the situation expressly that he might be arrested" (Memoirs of Raimbach 167-68). Raimbach properly denied any such predictable implications. Yet, although he could not anticipate any comparable outcome, Wilkie's decision to draw the gate in the first place was no doubt conceived of as an act of homage to his predecessor.
All associations with Hogarth aside, the debacle of the Distraining, its mixed, even perplexing reception and its resultant removal from public sight, even led Raimbach to acknowledge a decline in Wilkie's "extreme popularity." But he also offered a means to stem this regression. "The public favour," he observed, "after flowing near twenty years in one direction, requires as usual, the excitement of novelty or a change of some sort" (Memoirs of Raimbach 134, 172). Wilkie too, recognized that a response was needed and informed Haydon not to "be surprised if I change my whole style" (Life of Haydon 1: 308). The most immediate consequence was The Breakfast, a bland but cheerful middle class scene he first settled upon in December, 1815 and completed two years later. Of it he would say, almost as if reacting to the detailed readings of the Distraining, "It has no story in it, but as it contains a great number of objects that look very pleasing upon canvas & as the family are supposed to be in good circumstances it affords the means of conveying an idea in the Picture of the most complete English comfort." (86) But it seemed to offer little else. It was "portraiture of body and bodily action with but a glimmering of mind," remarked a critic in the Examiner, presumably his one-time friend Robert Hunt (June 8, 1817: 363). Nevertheless, despite its poor reception it was obtained by Stafford for his gallery at Cleveland House. And regardless of such criticism, it will be recalled that when trying to find a suitable subject for Max Joseph, Wilkie initially thought the king might appreciate a pendant of a dinner party.
From shortly prior to receiving the Bavarian commission until his departure for a prolonged stay abroad in July 1825, Wilkie's search for significant stylistic change continued. Since many of the pictures produced during this process were speculative efforts, mostly unsponsored attempts at new genres, the public dimension of this transition was largely played out in the galleries of the BI, which refused commissioned work and accepted only pieces available for sale. (87) In 1817, rare for him, he showed Sheep Washing, a pure landscape done in the manner of Hobbema. There followed a pair of entirely anomalous grand manner nudes, Bathsheba in 1818, which was criticized as a divergence from "his own proper territory assigned to him by nature," and in 1820, just when Reading a Will was on display at the Academy, Bacchanalians gathering Grapes. (88) The following year, prompted perhaps by the vogue for the Waverley Novels, he reverted and showed A Veteran Highlander and The Highland Whiskey-still at Lochilphead, distinctly Scottish domestic subjects that derived from a summer 1817 trip north. (89) Of the latter painting it was declared in Annals of the Fine Arts, "Wilkie's himself again!" (v : 152).
With the exception of the Highland scenes, these diversions reflect Wilkie's attempt to transcend his working in Reynolds' "lowest style," the depiction of familiar life that had driven his previous success and which, Hazlitt had noted, kept him confined to the lower ranks of professional achievement, ranked at best with the relegated Netherlandish little masters. Then, in the midst of these resolute efforts to escape his past and elevate his status by working with "higher subjects," he suddenly found himself regressing yet again when he accepted Max Joseph's demand for a distinctly English work with "nothing in it but what is strictly in my own style of painting," (90) And just as Wilkie was settling on Reading a Will as a suitable subject for the king and working out the composition, he found himself contending once again with Hazlitt's critical opinions, particularly his right to link his name with that of Hogarth. Unquestionably the resultant painting was very much a reaction to his adversary's latest public pronouncements.
Ever more popular as a voice seeking to elevate the public's taste in literature and the arts, Hazlitt's latest views on Wilkie were available in the published version of a lecture on "The Works of Hogarth--On the Grand and Familiar Style of Painting," delivered December 29, 1818, at the Surrey Institution, a popular London venue. Neither Wilkie nor Haydon were in attendance that evening, but to their consternation within days they had a good sense of what had been pronounced, especially given that much of what was said was familiar material recycled. Haydon taken aback by this recurring belittlement declared Hazlitt's criticism to be "unjustly" and sought to respond. Wilkie who saw the dispute in personal terms discouraged him, but any reply Haydon declared was not to be from "regard to you, but for the Art" (Diary of Haydon 2:213 [January 11, 1819]). In the end, however, no word was forthcoming. (91)
To judge from the printed version that became available a few months later, Hazlitt's talk was comprised of an edited and extended version of the review that had followed his viewing of the Hogarths at the BI, with a new critical discussion added of Hogarth as a failed painter of religious subjects. In between, however, functioning as a defining foil to Hogarth's satiric works, he included sections of his earlier Wilkie article, much of it taken verbatim. (92) Still "a deservedly admired artist in our own times," Wilkie, he announced, was to "assist us in forming a more determinate idea of the peculiar genius of Hogarth." But yet again he achieved this by undermining Wilkie's own reputation, by continuing to assert that lacking in insight and imagination, his works at best "derive almost their whole value from their reality, or the truth of the representation. They are works of pure imitative art." If Wilkie works in the disparaged "familiar" style, Hogarth is closer to the lauded "grand." He "was, in one sense, strictly an historical painter; that is, he represented the manners and humours of mankind in action, and their characters by varied expression. Every thing in his pictures has life and motion in it." For Wilkie the remarks may have confirmed the suitability of his pursuing a theme, which while it touched on economic life did nevertheless manage to avoid the controversies that had previously surrounded the Distraining. As for his specifically taking up Reading a Will what also becomes clear is the importance of Hazlitt's reviving the Hogarthian challenge and with it the lingering question of Wilkie as his inheritor. As much as he may have been reacting to Bird's and Lizars' realizations of this subject, it is also evident that with particular regard to Hogarth, it was not visual but rather literary precedents that were crucial to Wilkie's choice. Not only did such texts confirm the nationalistic overtones of the scene, but more personally, even if they did not affect the overall composition or specific details, they did touch directly upon this ongoing controversy.
Indeed, preparatory drawings indicate that in August 1818, once he settled on depicting the reading of a will for Max Joseph, but prior to Stafford's approving the definitive oil sketch the following February, Wilkie had once thought of taking his scene from Tobias Smollett's novel, Roderick Random (London, 1748). A writer whom Beaumont had called to his attention as early as 1807, Smollett as a member of the Hogarth generation was also regularly praised by Hazlitt. (93) What attracted Wilkie in this instance was the account in Random (chapter 4) of the reading of a will to a gathering of "expectants, whose looks and gestures formed a group that would have been very entertaining to an unconcerned spectator." And one would have thought by extension to an artist. Yet hitherto, no illustrator or painter, Bird or Lizars included, had apparently taken up Smollett's descriptive passage. (94) From Wilkie it was only to obtain passing consideration.
The surviving studies indicate that Wilkie initially worked with a variety of arrangements, altering both the setting and the sitters. In some drawings the door is to the right, in others to the left. He also introduced an assortment of figures, some entering the room, others who stand about or have taken a chair, and at least once he thought of seating virtually everyone around a long table rather than the circular one finally settled on. (95) That at some point he did think of working from Roderick Random is confirmed by a previously unnoticed detail in a sheet now in the Ashmolean Museum. Observing Random's uncle at the gathering Smollett had described him as listening to the lawyer's pronouncements "with great attention, sucking the head of his cudgel." Such an elderly man mouthing a cudgel is prominently seem amongst the group just to the right of the deceased's chair in one of Wilkie's rejected studies. (96) Certainly this distinctive feature finds no place in the painting as executed. Whether at this stage he went beyond this single motif and pursued Smollett's text still further is unknown, but when the completed painting was shown at the RA in 1820 the accompanying literary reference, another account of the reading of a will, came from elsewhere. Taken from an otherwise unidentified source, it was identified in the catalog only as being by the unnamed author of a recent popular novel, Waverley (London, 1814).
In fact the passage was extracted from Guy Mannering, or The Astrologer (Edinburgh, 1815), the second of Walter Scott's Waverley Novels. It was an ironic choice, for although Wilkie had known Scott since 1809 and had visited him in Scotland as recently as October, 1817, what neither he nor virtually anyone else then knew, Scott's family included, was that Scott was their author, a fact which only came to be disclosed in 1827. Judging from a citation in The Antiquary (Edinburgh, 1816), the third novel, what Wilkie did know was that whoever this author was he was an admirer of his work. (97) For the catalog he provided the following edited passage from Guy Mannering; the brackets indicate omissions:
Mr. Protocol[,] accordingly, having required silence, began to read the settlement aloud[,] in a slow, steady, [and] business-like tone. The group around, in whose eyes hope[s] alternately awakened and faded, [and who] were straining their apprehensions to get at the drift of [the testator's meaning through the mist of] technical language in which the conveyance had involved it.
Just as Wilkie's Reading a Will properly owed nothing to Smollett's novel, it had nothing directly to do with Scott's episode, which takes place in the Scottish Lowlands, c. 1782. (98) In its details the painting reflects neither Randora's mid-eighteenth century England nor Scotland, but shows instead an interior befitting the artist's own time. And where according to Scott the will being read was that of an aged lady, Miss Margaret Bertram o' Singleside, to judge from a once younger man's portrait on the back wall with a sword hanging beside it, Wilkie's deceased is implied to be a retired army officer. A map of a barony even hints at nobility. (99)
Besides eliminating a few words and some punctuation, Wilkie did make a very significant and purposeful omission in his Scott transcription. He chose deliberately to drop the final clause from the paragraph's closing sentence. Recalling his earlier evocation of Wilkie in The Antiquary as a device to arouse in his readers a particular type of image, in Guy Mannering Scott concluded that these diverse and straining figures "might have made a study for Hogarth." And here was the challenge. With Hogarth long gone who better than Wilkie, at least to his own mind, to respond to this provocation. While avoiding Hogarth's broad comedy, as well as the offensive gloominess of the Distraining, and extending beyond a mere display of his technical skills in rendering detail, here was a fateful moralizing theme that touched on economic issues, social class and offered a wide range of reactive emotions, humor included.
In constructing a narrative reading of Reading a Will the Scott quote may have offered the Academy visitor a kind of pointer, a way into the painting. After that brief introduction, as with most depictions of familiar life, contemporary viewers, many from these newly enfranchised social strata, were meant to explore and reconstruct what they saw not by any dependence on academic learning, but by turning to the present and drawing on their own experiences. (100) This shift is well noted in an 1819 commentary on the decline of allegorical religious imagery:
It is probable that subjects like this chosen by Wilkie ... come most home now-a-days to the feelings of the multitude. They pre-suppose no knowledge of the past--no cherished ideas habitually dwelt on by the imagination--no deep feelings of religion--no deep feelings of patriotism--but merely a capacity for the most common sympathies of and sensibilities of human nature. The picture makes no demand on the previous habits or ideas of the spectator--it tells its own story, and tells it entirely--but exactly in proportion as it wants retrospective interest, I am inclined to think it wants endurance of interest. I think Wilkie's species of painting may be said to bear the same relation to the highest species which sentimental comedies and farces bear to regular tragedies.
Ironically perhaps, this lament came from Walter Scott's about to be son-in-law, the biting satirist John G. Lockhart. (101)
What has been hitherto overlooked, however, is that Haydon, who no doubt saw and discussed the painting regularly in his friend's painting room, has provided the very sort of narrative that Lockhart regretted. For the novelist Mary Russell Mitford he identified the principal characters and the general dynamics of the moment:
At a table is an old lawyer's clerk, a mean-looking, narrow-featured fellow, who holds the will, with all its awful appendages of seals, and reads it with a look of cant twang which all people have in the voice when they are doing what they have done often, and habit has rendered them insensible either to the importance or interest of what they do. To the left sits the widow, a large embonpoint lady, with her arm stretched over the favourite arm-chair of the late dear departed, holding a handkerchief; and by her expression she seems not at all displeased at the contents of what she hears read, or at what either she hears said by a bald-pated half-pay officer, who leans down to her cheek, and in an affected air of indolence is certainly (sic) whispering something which perhaps prevents her sinking into utter despair at any hopes of again making a conquest.... To the right, in the centre, stands a middle-aged grand-mother, holding the infant in her arms, and erecting her head with an air of insolent ecstasy at what has been read by the clerk, which makes it pretty clear that her part of the family is safe. Her, air, figure, look, and expression are admirable. They all dilate into a sort of turkey-cock chuckle, and capitally contrast with a furious old maid at the door, who has snatched up her cane at the instant, and is sarcastically sneering at the whole company, as she hurries away in indignation at being cut off possibly with ten guineas for a ring. These are the principal points of this capital picture. There are other characters in it equally excellent, such as an old man with an ear-trumpet, a servant boy, and others, which make up the chain of interest. (Haydon to Mitford, November 14, 1819, Correspondence and Table-Talk 2: 65)
Whether she or anyone else shared these perceptions is unknown, for surely others could offer entirely different interpretations of what they saw.
However, despite the public praise that greeted the painting, at least one critic, the aptly named Janus Weathercock, did revive complaints about Wilkie's taste for carefully finished distractive details. Now known to have been the painter Thomas Wainwright, he had only recently taken up journalistic criticism. (102) On reviewing the 1820 Academy exhibition for the London Magazine Weathercock promptly inquired, "Where is this famous Reading a Will, of Wilkie's, that is so much talked about?" After locating it, but before addressing the painting, he notes that being a "staunch adorer of the Antique, and the Florentine and Roman Schools," he "loathes and detests coat-and-waistcoat pieces," but adds somewhat duplicitously, "Nobody admires Wilkie half as much taken as an exception. I've proofs of his 'Blind Fiddler' and 'Rent Day'. It's fact! I have indeed!" But print culture and painting Weathercock recognized as two entirely different spheres that appealed to two very different audiences, cost and scale, for example, being defining factors. Rather than attacking Wilkie directly he continues by lampooning instead the hordes of commonplace admirers who flocked to his paintings:
Only it offends me to the soul, to see a parcel of chuckleheaded Papas, doting Mammas, and chalk-and charcoal-faced Misses, neglecting that beautiful eccentricity of Turner's yonder in the mahogany frame, and crowding and squeezing, and riding upon one another's backs to get a sight--not of the faces of the folks hearing the Will, but of the brass clasps of the strong box wherein was deposited the Will. (103)
Disdaining this taste for the obvious Weathercock reiterates here a familiar critical stance, one that Haydon, for example, had addressed in his diary as early as 1809. Writing about The Rent Day, then at the RA, he lamented the crowds who clap up their glasses before a Picture and admire not "the character of the mind? No, the dutch part, the touching, the knifes, the pewter plates, and tin saucepans--this is all they comprehend--this is what they look for, and this is what they see." (104) The wit aside, such reiterated accounts confirm an easily satisfied affection for the mechanical, for an exactitude of detail that came at the expense of intellectual and moral content and did little to advance the national taste. Certainly, such a stance underlay much of Hazlitt's criticism and it is important to note that at this time Wainwright was very much Hazlitt's protege. (105)
Presumably the subsequent dispatch of Reading a Will to Max Joseph in Munich would have brought this persisting rivalry with a long dead opponent to an end. And finally rid of this diverting anachronistic work Wilkie could now complete the Chelsea Pensioners and continue his transition away from the humble sorts of genre paintings that had hitherto dominated and defined his career. (106) Yet there is clear evidence that he still was not finished with Hogarth. The final bout in this contest may have been provoked, indirectly perhaps, by yet another pointed testimonial to the latter's enduring popularity, the 1822 publication of The Works of William Hogarth, a large folio edition of engravings, many printed from restored copper plates. Included was a brief introductory essay on Hogarth's "Genius and Productions" by the antiquarian John Nichols. (107) With acknowledgments to Lamb, Nichols avoided any real discussion of his work as a caricaturist or failed history painter and focused instead on his readable works, on his achievements as a "Moral" artist. On concluding he identifies Hogarth as "one of those Great Men, whose works are destined to survive all the changes of taste." Admittedly, Nichols continues, he "has been excelled by several; but no Artist has yet produced works that rival, in expression and in character, those of the great Ethic painter, of whom England is so justly proud:--works that will always continue to be admired in proportion to the care with which they are studied." Assuming that Wilkie knew this essay and that he was perturbed yet again by Hogarth's overwhelming lingering presence and yet again the implied even if not specified comparisons of their work, he certainly returned to the rivalry the next year. What is striking is that this time his response came in a minor key, not through a painting of familiar life but through a character sketch.
Wilkie rarely exhibited drawings, but at the 1824 Academy, together with Smugglers offering Run Goods for Sale or Concealment and The Cottage Toilet, he showed a finished study of a Royal Naval Hospital pensioner. Completed the previous year, A Study for Commodore Trunnion, made in Greenwich Hospital (Figure 6) was possibly done in anticipation of a future painting. (108) Although not accompanied by any literary citation, for many the title would have quickly disclosed the intended association of this veteran of the Seven Years War with a character from Smollett's Peregrine Pickle. However, even if only a study, these same viewers may have realized that the portrayal is incomplete, for Trunnion's most distinguishing feature is omitted, an eye lost in battle. More to the point, those familiar with the novel also may have recalled the author's challenging description of the Commodore (chapter XIV): "It would be a difficult task for the inimitable Hogarth himself to exhibit the ludicrous expression of the commodore's countenance while he read this letter." Obviously Wilkie had not chosen to illustrate this anecdotal moment, this particular expression, but he did take the opportunity to portray a figure whose image the author had suggested was even beyond his predecessor's capabilities. Thus, yet again, it appears that posthumously Hogarth had provoked a response. Or was it for posterity, for history, that the long suffering Wilkie had sought to meaningfully reassert the linkage of their names.
[FIGURE 6 OMITTED]
In any case within a matter of months a series of personal and professional crises led to a serious breakdown in Wilkie's health. On medical advice in the summer of 1825 he departed England for what became a three year recuperative journey through Europe. (109) With his departure the Trunnion and many other works were left behind, in many cases not just incomplete, but eventually also the forgotten remnants of what became an entirely transformative professional experience. While abroad, affected by the galleries he visited in Germany, Italy and Spain, a major shift in his ambition and style occurred and Wilkie yielded to the temptations of history painting in the grand manner, with incidents drawn from recent events or from the past, and when the latter, often from his native Scotland. (110) Although in later years he would still take on the occasional scene from familiar life, The Cottar's Saturday Night, 1837, and Grace before Meat, 1839, for example, the subject's handling no longer derived from the Netherlandish sources upon which his reputation had been initially established, but rather reflected the new south European masters to whom his devotion had shifted. (111) And with this shift there also came a new vision of the past of English art. When writing a condolence note to Lady Beaumont from Rome in March, 1827, following Sir George's recent death, he recalled that this amateur painter of classical landscapes, collector of old masters, and onetime friend to Joshua Reynolds, was a remnant of what he called "the primitive time,--and what I fear, in respect to the future, must be called the golden age of British art" (Life of Wilkie 2: 397). This new vision presumably had little place for William Hogarth and with it went any lingering interest Wilkie had in him.
Just as he was abandoning genre painting, in Germany especially, Wilkie's reputation, as well as Hogarth's, was on the rise and a new generation of artists happily followed his example, at times even taking up the same subjects. Increasingly, the early nineteenth century German public was being encouraged to admire a prospering Britain and imitate its practices and progress in industry, commerce and trade. Initially, other than in architecture, little interest was demonstrated in contemporary British art. Serving nationalistic aspirations, the Teutonic states officially promoted a monumental historicized style and compared to the old masters recent British history painting offered their artists few suitable decorative precedents. But after 1820 the accumulation of personal wealth and the bourgeoisification of society led to increasingly private patronage and a "verburglichte" taste, an appreciation for the depiction and celebration of contemporary domestic life, notably as it had been revived and translated by Wilkie. (112) Sir William Knighton, struck during an 1833 tour of Germany by the availability and appreciation of prints after his work, was led to observe, "There never was a modern artist held in such estimation as our Wilkie is on the continent." (113) Just as he provided his own countrymen with a language for portraying their national character, through his examples he now offered the Germans a means for representing their lives and the expression of their values.
Their most immediate introduction to his work, as already noted, came from engravings and with local variations there followed painted versions of such subjects as Dorfpolitickers, Der blinde Geiger, and with the availability of Raimbach's 1828 Distraining print, Die Pfanderung. (114) Not unexpectedly, after 1826, the most imitated subject was Die Testamentseroffnung, that is Reading a Will. Besides the availability of John Burnet's engraving published that year, the painting itself finally came into public view. (115) Reflective of the dichotomy of official taste, being a private and not state commission Die Testamentseroffnung had originally hung in Max. I Joseph's bedroom in the royal palace at the Tegemsee. Indeed, following the king's death in 1825, Wilkie visiting Bavaria in June, 1826, underwent great administrative difficulties before securing permission to see his own handiwork. (116) Shades of the narrative shown, there were two contending heirs for the royal estate and he found the painting under seal and about to be auctioned with the remainder of the king's collection. Sold for a record price, 12,000 florins, the buyer was Joseph's son and successor, King Ludwig I, though yet again it was unsuccessfully sought by the British Prince Regent, by then George IV. (117) It was Ludwig who made the painting more widely available, placing Reading a Will in the Royale Gallerie, where, it was seen by a friend of Walter Scott's, who informed Wilkie in turn that it was ranked "even above the best masters of their own school." (118) However, after 1836 and the installation of the old master collections in the newly opened Pinakothek, the painting as a modern work was consigned to Schleisheim, a deserted palace in a "dreary situation," which a contemporary guidebook for English visitors described as nothing more than "a large lumber-house." There with effort a tourist could see "Wilkie's masterpiece, the Reading of the Will, formerly in the gallery at Munich, but now buried in a mass of rubbish, because, forsooth, the painter is alive!" (119) In turn, long after Wilkie's 1841 death and following Ludwig's in 1848, the picture was finally acquired by the state and was soon installed in Munich's newest state gallery, Die neue Pinakothek, in whose collections it remains. (120)
The Viennese painter Ferdinand George Waldmuller saw it at the Gallerie in 1830 while passing through the city and was struck by its "unendlich wahren Effekt," and thought "das Ganze hochst naturlich." (121) Peter Hassenclaver from Dusseldorf, whose work was to be heavily influenced by Wilkie, admired it in 1838, probably at Schleisheim. (122) Neither painter, however, did a version of the scene. Most of those who did take up the subject were more closely associated with Munich, whether as residents or sometime students at the local Academy, which had made Wilkie an honorary member in 1829 (Immel, Die Deutsche Genremalerei 132-34). None, however, followed his example by making reference to Guy Mannering, which as Der Astrolog (Leipzig, 1817), was the first Waverley Novel to be translated into German. (123) Instead, the German artists were only interested in how Wilkie's image might be adapted to their own national circumstances. Joseph Petzl (1803-1871) was apparently the earliest to react. Although he did not repeat the specific subject, his Versteigerung in einem vornehmen Hause, the depiction of the auction of an aristocratic household, was said to have owed much to Die Testamentseroffnung. A student at the Munich academy from 1821 to 1827, when he left for Berlin, the painting was executed between 1831 and 1833, when he was back living in Munich, and his subject may well have been inspired by a recollection of the controversy surrounding the sale of Max Joseph's property. (124)
What was probably the first painting to specifically depict a reading of a will came in 1839 from the Viennese Joseph Danhauser (1805-1845). Moreover, various details he included, an empty chair, a portrait visible through the doorway, the map and barometer on the wall, and various still life elements, clearly derive from Wilkie's composition, but since he is not known to have yet visited Munich he would have worked from the Burnet engraving or one of the pirated prints. In a compacted assemblage with two distinct parties contending for the legacy, Danhauser's narrative is more clearly defined than the sprawled crowd of the original (Figure 7). In 1843, following a visit to Munich the previous year, he took up the subject again, but this time he made the scene more his own. Although still depicted as a well defined contemporary event, the aspiring competing inheritors are now gathered in a decaying rococo interior and fewer of Wilkie's details are carried over. (125)
Still other early versions came from outside the country: the Dutchman Samuel De Vletter (1816-1844) was awarded a gold medal at the 1841 Amsterdam Koninklijke Akademie for Binnenvertrek; and the Belgian AloisPierre-Paul Hunin's (1808-1855) 1845 Testamentseroffnung took gold at the 1851 Paris salon. (126) Those connected to Munich who took up the subject include Gisberg Fluggen (1811-1859) and Johan Geyer (1807-1875). Originally from Cologne, Fluggen studied briefly in Dusseldorf before finally settling in Munich in 1833. His Das Testament was exhibited in Hanover in 1853. (127) And from 1857 is the version by Geyer, an Augsburger who entered the Munich Academy in 1826 and, after traveling to Belgium and France, was back teaching in his home city by 1833. (128) Perhaps the last to take on the subject was Ludwig Bokelman from Dusseldorf, who apparently saw the Wilkie in 1872 while traveling south to Italy. His Testament-seroffnung, was included in the 1878 Berlin Academy exhibition. (129)
[FIGURE 7 OMITTED]
Back in England, as the nineteenth century progressed not only did Hogarth remain a persistent influence, but Wilkie's early work also continued to impact various, though often the same, painters. As for Hogarth, most immediately and remarkably it was Haydon, otherwise a committed and unyielding history painter, who reflects most directly the impact of his comic and satiric works. (130) In the 1820s, a decade that saw him three times imprisoned for debt in the King's Bench, Haydon produced two pictures, The Mock Election (1827), and Chairing the Member (1828), purchased by George IV, which recall prison incidents he had witnessed, as well as a third painting, Punch, or May Day (1829-1830), a scene of London street life. (131) The former pair makes direct reference to Hogarth's Election series, which included both scenes and, as already noted, had once offered Wilkie alternative possibilities for his Bavarian commission. (132) In taking up Chairing the Member, Haydon also may have had Hazlitt in mind, who in the early essay on Hogarth and later in the Surrey lecture had declared it to be "of all Hogarth's pictures, the most full of laughable incidents and situations." Later Hogarth became a favorite of the Victorians and was especially admired by the Pre-Raphaelites, and their followers, notably several who celebrated their appreciation by forming the Hogarth Club in 1858. (133)
An entirely separate issue is the persistence of Wilkie's subject amongst English artists, where the long departed Reading a Will was best known from the Burnet engraving. (134) Although it never obtained the popularity it had in Germany and Austria, at least two English artists did subsequently depict the theme. Wilkie's close friend Charles Robert Leslie, who often chose scenes from early Georgian novelists, leading him to be called by a patron, "the Hogarth of elegant life," painted a reading (Figure 8), as an early eighteenth century costume piece. Included in the 1846 RA as Scene from Roderick Random, the catalog quoted lines from the same passage in the novel that Wilkie had once thought of treating, though instead of uncouthly sucking his cudgel, Leslie just has the old man holding his stick. (135) Finally, at the Academy in 1870, Frederick D. Hardy, a founder of what came to be called the Cranbrook Colony, showed Reading the Will (Figure 9). Inspired directly by Wilkie's portrayal of rural life the group were a loose association of painters, who searching for the remnants of authentic rustic imagery had settled in the 1850s in a depressed agricultural community in Kent. By the 1870s the group began to disassociate and Hardy's interests shifted to middle class interiors of which this painting is an early example. (136)
Putting the subsequent Germanic success of Reading a Will and other of his works aside, during the two decades that stretched from his arrival in London to his departure in 1825 for what became a transformative continental journey, David Wilkie was unquestionably the dominating force in the revival of British genre painting. Haydon, bitter in the light of his own failures as a history painter, had summarized his achievement the previous year: "Wilkie by his talent has done great injury to the taste of the Nation.
[FIGURE 8 OMITTED]
[FIGURE 9 OMITTED]
Nothing bold or masculine or grand or powerful touches an English connoisseur--it must be small and highly wrought, and vulgar & humorous & broad--palpable." (137) The nation's economic and social transformations during those years, together with the nationalism fostered by the Napoleonic wars, had certainly encouraged the emergence of such work, but it was Wilkie's own visionary and technical talents that allowed him to reach the summit of his profession. What becomes evident is that this achievement, which Haydon saw as reflecting a "Dutch taste" also owed much to the long dead William Hogarth, an artist whose own reputation was then being reevaluated. This study has sought to define Hogarth's provocative even if occasional importance for Wilkie, Using widely accessible narrative contents, stories, that is, with the broadest possible appeal, not only did both artists celebrate the commonplace British virtues and values of their respective times, but through the print media their images became affordable and widely available. Consequently, besides the linkage of their names, which had both personal and professional ramifications, over time as that connection evolved it also came under increasing critical scrutiny, notably through the person of William Hazlitt who came to question Wilkie's worthiness as Hogarth's heir in the leadership of what was referred to as the British School. And in many ways he never yielded in his opinion. Here, in conclusion, are some remarks, appropriately from his 1826 essay "On Envy." There may be some affirmation of the absent Wilkie's achievement and worthiness, but Hazlitt still cannot avoid giving it a little tweak:
No one thinks, for instance, of denying the merit of Teniers in his particular style of art, no one consequently thinks of envying him. The merit of Wilkie, on the contrary, was at first strongly contested, and there were other painters set up in opposition to him, till now that he has become a sort of classic in his way, he has ceased to be an object of envy or dislike, because no one doubts his real excellence, as far as it goes. He has no more than justice done him, and the mind never revolts at justice. (138)
Regardless, "as far as it goes," what has been demonstrated above is that The Reading of a Will was Wilkie's fullest response to a challenge that culminated as much with Hazlitt as with Hogarth. In turn, whether because of a decline in appreciation or a rise in personal ambition, the painting became the last of his major works to illustrate an aspect of the nation's domestic life and it was here in this last work that he sought to confirm his place as Hogarth redivivus, a succession which soon became a moot question.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
(1.) For the journey, see Alan Cunningham, The Life of David Wilkie [hereafter Life of Wilkie] (London, 1843) 1: 389-431; Tom Taylor, ed., Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon (rev. ed., London, 1853) 1: 222-62, and The Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon, ed. Willard B. Pope (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1960) 1: 352-76. Print sales did not prove very successful and his friend Abraham Raimbach, the engraver, blamed the "refined and classical taste of the French nation," but one of his agents submitted Raimbach's engraving of The Village Politicians to the 1814 Salon where it won a gold medal; Memoirs and Recollections of the late Abraham Raimbach, Esq., ed. M. T. S. Raimbach (London, 1843) 125, 164-69. See also Barthelemy Jobert, "A la recherche de l'ecole anglaise: Lawrence, Wilkie and Martin, Three British Artists in Restoration France," in Christiana Payne and William Vaughan, English Accents: Interaction with British Art c. 1776-1855 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004) 132-37. For a fuller account of engravings after his work, see Arthur S. Marks, "Wilkie and the Reproductive Print," in William Chiego, H. A. D. Miles, and Lindsay Errington, eds., Sir David Wilkie of Scotland (1785-1841) (Raleigh: North Carolina Museum of Art, 1987) 73-95. More generally for the painter's career there are the various essays in Wilkie of Scotland; Lindsay Errington, Tribute to Wilkie (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1985); Errington, David Wilkie, 1785-1841 (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1988); Hamish Miles, Sir David Wilkie (London: Richard L. Feigen, 1994); and Nicholas Tromans, David Wilkie, Painter of Everyday Life (London: Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2002).
(2.) For their travels, Life of Wilkie I: 442-54; Benjamin Robert Haydon, Correspondence and Table-Talk, ed. Frederick W. Haydon (London, 1876) 1: 305-8; and Memoirs of Raimbach 115-21. When comparing this journey with Wilkie's previous experience abroad, Raimbach noted, "the sale of the Wilkie prints in France has since become very extensive" (162).
(3.) Thomas Frognall Dibdin at Paris in 1818 encountered inexpensive aquatints after his work for sale; A Biographical, Antiquarian and Picturesque Tour in France and Germany, and ed. (London, 1829) 2: 334-35. These prints are further identified in G. K. Nagler, Neues allgemeines Kunstler-Lexicon (Munich, 1835-52) xxii: 336-43; J. Adhemar, J. Letheve and F. Garden, Inventoire du Fonds Francais apres 1800 (Paris, 1960) 289-95; and Marcia Pointon, "From 'Blind Man's Buff' to 'Le Colin Maillard': Wilkie and his French Audience," Oxford Art Journal 7 (1984): 15-25, esp. 17. See also Autobiographical Recollections of the late Charles Robert Leslie, ed. Tom Taylor (London, 1860) 1:42.
(4.) For the idea of a British School, see Martin Postle, "In Search of the 'True Briton': Reynolds, Hogarth and the British School," in Brian Allen, ed., Towards a Modern Art World (New Haven: Yale UP, 1995) 121-43. As a Scot Wilkie also could see himself as a successor to David Allan, whose work he admired and who had been known as the Scottish Hogarth; a sobriquet noted, for example, in Alan Ramsay, The Gentle Shepherd, a Pastoral Comedy; with ... an Appendix Containing Memoirs of David Allan, the Scots Hogarth (Edinburgh, 1808) 2: 620, 628-29.
(5.) John A. Young, A Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures of the Most Noble The Marquis of Stafford at Cleveland House (London, 1825) 2, no. 38, for The Breakfast, and for the commissioning of the painting, Life of Wilkie 1: 382, 440-41, 457-59. More generally for the collection and Stafford as a collector of contemporary art: John Britton, Catalogue Raisonee of the Pictures Belonging to the Most Honble. Marquis of Stafford (London, 1808); William Young Ottley, Engravings of the Most Noble The Marquis of Stafford's Collection of Pictures (London, 1818); and the obituary in Thomas Smith, Recollections of the British Institution (London, 1860) 137, 180-181.
(6.) Wilkie to Raimbach, July 2, 1818; als, Huntington Library. The commission is clarified in what is apparently Burghersh's letter to Stafford, included undated in Life of Wilkie 2,: 21-22, where it is noted that the king, who knew Stafford, sought "a work of one of our best artists; and I hope from the hand of Wilkie, it may compete with many of the fine works which adorn his collection."
(7.) For Max. 1 Joseph's taste, see Barbara Hardtwig, "Konig Max Joseph als Kunstsammler und Maen," in Hubert Glaser, ed., Wittelsbach und Bayern, 111.1 Krone und Vetfassung: Konig Max. 1 Joseph und der neue Stadt (Munich, 1980) 428.
(8.) Wilkie to Raimbach, July 26, 1818; als, Huntington Library.
(9.) On Wilkie as a British artist, that is one reflecting a "unionist-nationalist" identity, see John Morrison, Painting the Nation: Identity and Nationalism in Scottish Painting, 1800--1920 (Edinburgh, 2003) 20-21, 23-25. Also on this issue, William Vaughan, "The Englishness of British Art," Oxford Art Journal 13 (1990): 88-99; Duncan Forbes, "'Dodging and watching the natural incidents of the peasantry': Genre Painting in Scotland 1780-1830," Oxford Art Journal 23 (2000): 79-94, who argues that Scottish genre exhibits more aggressive behaviors; and Tromans, Painter of Everyday Life 21-23.
(10.) Wilkie to Raimbach, July 26, 1818, als, Huntington Library; and for The Rent Day, Wilkie of Scotland 131-35. Regarding his use of Netherlandish precedents there are the pertinent comments of John Burnet, Practical Essays on the Fine Arts (London, 1848-50) 470. Even The Rent Day, 1807, which seems a particularly English subject, can be associated with a Netherlandish precedent. Stafford's collection, for example, held a Teniers that is recorded as The Rent Day Feast; Young, Collection of Pictures of Stafford 2: 112. More generally for Wilkie and Netherlandish precedents, see Lindsay Errington, "Gold and Silver in Shadow: The Dutch Influence on Nineteenth-Century Scottish Painting," in Julia Lloyd Williams, Dutch Art and Scotland: A Reflection of Taste (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1992) 4954; and Henry Mount, "'Our British Teniers': David Wilkie and the Heritage of British Art," in Tromans, Painter of Everyday Life 30-39.
(11.) Wilkie to Stafford, August 10, 1818; Life of Wilkie 2:22-23.
(12.) Life of Wilkie 2: 16. For the painting generally: Flavia Dietrich, "A Picture for the Bavarian King: David Wilkie's The reading of the will," British Art Journal 4, no. 2 (2003): 37-44; Thea Vignau-Wilberg, ed., Bayerisches Staatsgemaldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munchen: Gemaldekataloge, IV; Spatklassizismus und Romantik (Munich, 2003) 537-41; and Hardtwig, "Konig Max Joseph als Kunstsammler und Maen" 423-38. For the oil sketch, shown in 1821 at the BI and now at the Yale Center for British Art; Life of Wilkie 2: 16-17. A smaller oil sketch, now untraced, was formerly in the collection of Sir Thomas Lawrence; Lawrence sale, Christie's, May 15, 1830; lot 75. For various drawings and their use, see David Blayney Brown, Sir David Wilkie: Drawings and Sketches in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1985), nos. 25-29; Tromans, Painter of Everyday Life 130; and Neue Pinakothek, Munchen, Gemaldekataloge 538. In proceeding Wilkie also made use of small models in a box; Wilkie to Perry Nursey, July 24, 1820, als, British Library, add. mss 29,991/9; and more generally on his utilizing such aides, Amedee Pichot, Historical and Literary Tour of a Foreigner in England and Scotland (London, 1825) 1: 126: Katherine Thomson, Recollections of Literary Characters (London, 1854) 2: 61; and Hamish A. D. Miles, "Wilkie's Studio Secrets," in Tromans, Painter of Everyday Life 43-45.
(13.) For the Wellington commission, see Wilkie to Haydon, August 18, 1816, Taylor, Life of Haydon 1: 323-26; and for the painting, Wilkie of Scotland 184-91. Although he had apparently given thought to a Chelsea Pensioner scene as early as 1810, at which time he resided in the area, in part this picture also might have been a response to Bird, who in 1808 at the RA showed The Old Soldier's Story. Very likely the same painting was included in the 1820 memorial exhibition of Bird's work as The Battle of Waterloo, where it was described as "The soldier by the fireside, kindles at the recollection of his past achievements and fights his battles over again"; Richardson, Bird 30. And perhaps picking up on Wilkie's theme, the 1821 BI included Bird's A Soldier Relating his Adventures at the Battle of Waterloo; a Sketch.
(14.) After numerous attempts to obtain the duke's approval, Wilkie received permission to begin the painting, July 12, 1819, when he was already at work on Reading a Will; Life of Wilkie 2: 18. Writing to Perry Nursery, December 28, 1819, he noted his having "laid aside for the present the Duke of Wellington's picture till this [the Opening of the Will] is done": als, British Library, add mss 29, 991.
(15.) The sketch is now in the collection of the Mellon Center for British Art, Yale University.
(16.) For the diary entry (October 9, 1819), see Life of Wilkie 2: 18; and for the letter to Beaumont (November 25, 1819) 25.
(17.) See, for example, Annals of the Fine Arts v (1820): 393- Wilkie also used part of the scene for one of a series of engravings he began executing in 1819; Campbell Dodgson, The Etchings of Sir David Wilkie & Andrew Geddes (London, 1936) 11-13, 26.
(18.) Press Cuttings, from English Newspapers, on Matters of Artistic Interest (National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum; pressmark PP.17.G) 1217.
(19.) For the attempts to retain the painting in England, see Wilkie to Beaumont, October 30, 1820, in Josephine Gear, Masters or Servants? A Study of Selected English Painters and their Patrons of the later Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (New York: Garland, 1977) 363-64. Also Life of Wilkie 2: 29-42; Memoirs of Raimbach 170-71; als, Wilkie to Raimbach, September 6, 1820, Huntington Library; and The Diary of Joseph Farington, eds. Kenneth Garlick, Angus Macintyre and Kathryn Cave (New Haven: Yale UP, 1978-1984) 16: 5511 (May 26, 1820).
(20.) For example the procedure finds no mention in Laws of England, respecting Wills: or Everyman his own Attorney (London, 1813); or James Barry Bird, The Laws respecting Wills, Testaments and Codicils, 6th corrected and improved ed. (London, 1817).
(21.) For Bannister, his relationships with Beaumont and Wilkie, and his beginnings as an artist, see John Adolphus, Memoirs of John Bannister, Comedian (London, 1839) 1: 12-15, 288-92, 2: 277-81, 283-84; and Felicity Owen and David Blayney Brown, Collector of Genius, A Life of Sir George Beaumont (New Haven: Yale UP, 1988) 20-26, 38, 70, 100. Various meetings with Bannister and Liston are recorded throughout Life of Wilkie I; and for Liston's sittings for the comical figure of a drunk in The Village Holiday 261-65. Perhaps, as comic actors Liston and Bannister were aware of a French comedy, Jean Armand Charlemagne, Le Testament de l'Onde ou Les Lunettes Cassees (Paris, 1806), performed in Paris the same year, which included a reading (14-20; Act 1, Scenes 13-14). A similarly tided drama, translated from the French, Benoit Pelletier-Volmeange, Das Testament des Onkels (Vienna, 1808), also has a reading (81-87; Act 3, Scene 12), and has been connected to the painting by Hardtwig, "Max Joseph als Kunstsammler" 428. Assuming availability both dramas may have inspired Liston and Bannister, but neither play would have provided Wilkie and Stafford with the requisite English legitimacy, especially since, as will be seen, other more appropriate literary sources can be identified. Therefore their importance would be minimal except in the most indirect of ways.
(22.) Immel has suggested Hendrick Gerritsz Pot's Der Streit um die Erbschaft [Quarrel over the Inheritance], now in the Berlin Museum, but this painting, never engraved and most likely little known in England, shows a different sort of scene, several heirs struggling over a table covered with jewels and plate; Ute Immel, Die Deutsch Genremalerei im Neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Heidelberg, 1967) 78, 216.
(23.) For such a reading, see Repository of Arts, 1811, 340-41. Wilkie recorded making a drawing of a "French inlaid strong box" at Cleveland House, January 5, 1820; Life of Wilkie 2: 27.
(24.) In conjunction with Boydell in London Lizars published it himself: Alfred Whitman, Charles Turner (London, 1907) 251-53. At the same time Turner also engraved Lizars' other exhibited 1812 piece, A Scotch Wedding.
(25.) For a fuller account of this ongoing challenge, see Arthur S. Marks, "Rivalry at the Royal Academy: Wilkie, Turner and Bird," SiR 20 (1981): 333-62; and Sarah Richardson, Edward Bird, 1771-1819 (Wolverhampton: The Gallery, 1982) 27-29. For further discussion of artistic rivalries, Ernst Kris and Otto Kurtz, Legend, Myth and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment (New Haven: Yale UP, 1979) 96, 120-25.
(26.) William Wilkie Collins, Memoirs of William Collins (London, 1848) 1: 41.
(27.) For the painting, Wilkie of Scotland 147-52.
(28.) For these changes, see Richardson, Bird 32-36, 39-41.
(29.) These artists are discussed in Robert Brydall, Art in Scotland: Its Origins and Progress (Edinburgh, 1889) 207-13, 266-68, 271, 325-27; David and Francina Irwin, Scottish Painters at Home and Abroad 1700-1900 (London: Faber, 1975) 190-92, 195-96; and Duncan Macmillan, Painting in Scotland: The Golden Age (Oxford: Phaidon, 1986) 147-49, 180-81. For Carse, see also Lindsay Errington, Alexander Carse c. 1770-1843 (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 1987) 5-7, 14-16. A humorous comment on such rivalries by another Scottish follower of Wilkie is Walter Geikie's drawing Rival Artists; Julian Halsby, Scottish Watercolours 1740-1940 (London: Batsford, 1986) 60-61.
(30.) A reviewer observed that Lizar's two paintings displayed "a degree of talent much above mediocrity," though admitting that "some of their passages rather border on excess of character," while others were "unaffected and natural, and all are interesting and vigorous"; Press Cuttings from English Newspapers 853.
(31.) For Lizars as an engraver, see John C. Guy, "Edinburgh Engravers," Book of the Old Edinburgh Club IX (1916): 94-95.
(32.) The Lizar's painting is in the collections of the National Gallery of Scotland. For the retitling and even the eventual publication, 1832, of several prints as The Scotch Wedding, see Life of Wilkie 3: 9. For The Penny Wedding and its earlier sources: Oliver N. Millar The Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen: Pt. 3. The later Georgian Pictures (London, 1969) 1: 138; Errington, Tribute to Wilkie 14-21; and Wilkie of Scotland 168-72.
(33.) For the Motlands, see John Hassell, Memoirs of the Life of the Late George Morland (London, 1806) 58, 94-96, 104-6, 114, 136-41, 159-63. In July 1805, shortly after arriving in London, Wilkie admired an exhibition of the recently deceased Morland's work: Hassell,
Morland 181-204; and for Wilkie's reaction, John W. Mollett, Sir David Wilkie (London, 1881) 15. He also shared many entrepreneurial attitudes with Morland and several times, notably with Ale House Politicians and Blind Man's Buff, he treated the same subject: see Hassell, Morland 76, 154, 188; and Christiana Payne, Rustic Simplicity: Scenes of Cottage Life in Nineteenth-Century British Art (Nottingham: Djanogly Art Gallery, 1998) 75, 86. For a recent revaluation of Morland, see Ann Wyburn Powell, "George Morland (1763-1804) beyond Barrell; Reexamining Textual and Visual Sources," British Art Journal 7.1 (2006): 55-64. Surprisingly, another who created such a series was James Northcote, a former pupil and assistant to Reynolds, who showed Diligence and Dissipation, a ten part tale at the RA in 1796. And, as noted above, Bird too showed six paintings depicting the fate of a poacher at the 1814 Academy; Payne, Rustic Simplicity 15-16.
(34.) Sir Joshua Reynolds, Discourses on Art, ed. Robert Wark (rev. ed., New Haven: Yale UP, 1975) 51. For a discussion of Reynolds and Hogarth, see David Bindman, Hogarth and his Times (Berkeley: U of California P, 1997) 15-19; and more generally for the decline of his reputation, Postle, "In Search of the 'True Briton'" 129-30.
(35.) Delivered December To, 1788; Reynolds, Discourses 254-55. For James Barry's criticism of Hogarth for his subject choices and his skill in rendering them, delivered variously, 1784-1798, in his lectures as Professor of Painting, see Lectures on Painting. By the Royal Academicians Barry, Opie and Fuseli, ed. Ralph Wornum (London, 1848) 161; and for his criticism of Netherlandish work 196, 229.
(36.) Lectures on Painting 280. In his second lecture 293, however, he did sympathize with Hogarth for the lack of suitable patronage and the resukant necessity of selling through auctions and lotteries. Opie was Professor of Painting 1805-1807; and his lectures delivered just prior to his death in the latter year were published posthumously, 1809, by his widow Amelia. For Wilkie and Opie who were acquainted by 1806, see Life of Wilkie 1: 120; Cecilia L. Brightwell, Memorials of the Life of Amelia Opie, 2nd ed. (Norwich, 1854) 127-32; and Ada Earland, John Opie and his Circle (London, 1911) 216-17.
(37.) Discourse v, December 10, 1772; Reynolds, Discourses 89.
(38.) On the nationalism issue, see, for example, William Sotheby, A Poetical Epistle to Sir George Beaumont, Bart. On the Encouragement of the British School of Painting (London, 1801), a poem composed soon after Nelson's victory at Copenhagen, which speaks of "insidious Gaul." For further on nationalism at this time and Hogarth's role, Gerald Newman, The Rise of English Nationalism, A Cultural History 1740-1830 (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1987) 63-65, 169, 230-32, 240-44; and Frederick Antal, Hogarth and his Place in European Art (London: Roudedge & Kegan Paul, 1962) 185-87. The relationship of a taste for French art and British nationalism of the Napoleonic era also needs exploring. For example, there is the issue of the lingering influence of Greuze, for which, see Solkin, "Crowds and Connoisseurs" 156-59, who sees it as declining by 1805. Another manifestation of this impulse was the short lived British School, 1802-1804, a nationalistic exhibition and sale body, in whose foundation Beaumont was instrumental, and which included the occasional British old master in its annual exhibitions: see John Gage, "The British School and the British School," in Allen, ed., Modern Art World 109-20; and William T. Whitley, Art in England 1800-1820 (Cambridge, 1928) 45-46. For Beaumont's role in its foundation, see Sotheby, A Poetical Epistle, p. v, who notes that Beaumont suggested "an exhibition of those pictures of English Masters, on which the test of time, and the decision of the public, had conferred distinguished approbation."
(39.) For Hogarth, see Newman, English Nationalism 241-42 and for the rural presentation and preservation of such values in a society undergoing urbanization, Christiana Payne, "Rural Virtues for Urban Consumption: Cottage Scenes in Early Victorian Painting," Journal of Victorian Culture 3, no. 1 (1998): 45-68; and her Rustic Simplicity; and Gray Harrison, Wordsworth's Vagrant Muse: Poetry, Poverty and Power (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1994) 183-86. For more on Wilkie and his early followers, see also David H. Solkin, "Crowds and Connoissenrs: Looking at Genre Painting at Somerset House," in Solkin, ed., Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780-1836 (New Haven: Yale UP, 2001) 160-71.
(40.) See Bell's Anatomy of Expression (London, 1806), for which Wilkie apparently did several of the illustrations; see Taylor, Life of Haydon 39; and Diary of Haydon 5: 148-49. For Bell's volume, see Frederick Cummings, "Charles Bell and the Anatomy of Expression," The Art Bulletin XLVI (1964): 191-203. Wilkie's theater attendance is regularly noted in Life of Wilkie 1.
(41.) For Hogarth, the Engraver's Act which gave some protection to printmakers and engravings after his work, see Ronald Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art, and Times (New Haven: Yale UP, 1971) 1: 359-64, 2: 128-29, 489-90 and for Wilkie's personal involvement with the production and sale of his prints, Marks, "Wilkie and Reproductive Print."
(42.) Morning Herald, May 6, 1806; quoted in Solkin, "Crowds and Connoisseurs" 161.
(43.) For the attempts to obtain The Rakes Progress, see Diary of Farington 5: 1752, 54 (February 27 and 28, 1801). Already Beaumont had two Hogarth paintings, both history paintings though, an oil sketch for the monumental Pool of Bethesda in the grand staircase at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and Debates on Palmistry; R. B. Beckett, Hogarth (London, 1949) 64, 71. And he owned Hogarth prints, which Wilkie records looking at in August, 1809; Life of Wilkie 1: 247. Wilkie also knew Angerstein's Marriage a la Mode paintings, of which he purportedly commented, "I have had them so often present to my mind in my waking dreams that all the incidents are commonly passing before me in my sleep. The 'Marriage Ala mode' are miracles of art": from an unsigned memoir based on recollections of conversations at Whitbread's house probably between 1808 and 1814; "Sir David Wilkie and his Friends," Fraser's Magazine 24 (1841): 453, also 451-52. For Wilkie and Whitbread, for whom he painted The Cut Finger, see Stephen Deuchar, Paintings, Politics & Porter: Samuel Whitbread 11 and British Art (London: Whitbread & Co., 1984) 74-76; and Wilkie of Scotland 143-46.
(44.) For the painting, Wilkie of Scotland 115-22.
(45.) As recorded in Diary of Farington 8:2900 (November 9, 1806); and for Farington's own comparison of the two 2935-36 (December 27, 1806). For Wilkie and Beaumont, see Owen and Brown, Collector of Genius 156-61, 183-85,
(46.) Lot 273 of the posthumous Wilkie sale, Christie's, May 3, 1842, was: "HOGARTH'S MAHL STICK presented to Sir David Wilkie by Sir George Beaumont." See also Charles R. Leslie, A Hand-book for Young Painters (London, 1855) 146.
(47.) Humphrey Repton, "The Following Observations & c. on the Pictures by Adrian van Ostade," in Britton, Catalogue Raisonee 144-47.
(48.) While "minutely examining" the Van Ostade, Repton recalled "calling Mr. WILKIE's attention to the subject": Britton, Catalogue Raisonee 146. Repton was instrumental in Samuel Whitbread's purchase of The Cut Finger; for which, see Stephen Daniels, Humphrey Repton: Landscape Gardening and the Geography of Georgian England (New Haven: Yale UP, 1999) 290, note 123; and for Repton calling on Wilkie in August 1808 when he was painting The Jew's Harp; Life of Wilkie 1: 186.
(49.) See Sheila O'Connell, "Hogarthomania and the Collecting of Hogarth," in Bindman, Hogarth and His Times 58-60; and Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works (New Haven: Yale UP, 1965) 1: 67-71.
(50.) The Reflector 11.3 (1811): 61-77. The essay was reprinted in John Nichols, George Steevens, and Isaac Reed, The Genuine Works of William Hogarth illustrated with biographical Anecdotes, a chronological Catalogue and Commentary (London, 1808-1817) 3: 58-86; and in The Works of Charles Lamb (London, 1818). For the room, see The Letters of Charles Lamb, ed. H. H. Harper (Boston, 1905) 3: 26-27, 33-34, 35, 161. The essay is well discussed in John I. Ades, "Perfect Sympathy: Lamb on Hogarth," The Charles Lamb Bulletin, new series 10-11 (1975): 49-54; Bindman, Hogarth and his Times 19-21; and Postle, "In Search of the 'True Briton'" 130-32. Fully tided "On the Genius and Character of Hogarth; With some Remarks on a Passage in the Writings of the late Mr. Barry," it reflects Lamb's having encountered during the course of his writing some denigrating Barry comments about Hogarth; see Barry's essay on his mural Elysium, or the State of Final Retribution; James Barry, Account of a Series of Pictures in the Great Room of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce at the Adelphi (1st ed, London, 1783), and reprinted in The Works of James Barry, ed. Edward Fryer (London, 1809) 2: 385-87.
(51.) Perhaps the best introduction to the Institution and its persistent commitment to history paintings is found in the forward to the 1811 exhibition catalog, British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom (London, 1811) 10-11, which looks to "a new school of Historic Painting rising within the walls of the British Gallery," and notes, for example, that all three premiums to be awarded were for "Historic Painting." For recent accounts of the BI, which emphasize many of these points, see Peter Fullerton, "Patronage and Pedagogy: The British Institution in the Early Nineteenth Century," Art History 5 (1982): 59-72; Anne Pullan, "Public Goods or Private Interests? The British Institution in the early Nineteenth Century," in Andrew Hemingway, ed., Art in Bourgeois Society, 1790-1850 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998) 27-44; and Nicholas Tromans, "Museum or Market? The British Institution," in Paul Barlow and Colin Trodd, eds., Governing Cultures: Art Institutions in Victorian London (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000) 44-48.
(52.) From the 1813 preface as reprinted in An Account of all the Pictures exhibited in the Rooms of the British Institution from 1813 to 1823 belonging to the Nobility and Gentry of England (London, 1824) 3, 6. See also Smith, British Institution 146-50.
(53.) From the 1814 preface, Account of all the Pictures 12-13. See also Smith, British Institution 150-56.
(54.) For a complete list, see Account of all the Pictures 248-49. Many with their owners identified and descriptions appended comprise John Young, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Works of Hogarth, Placed in the Gallery of the British Institution: Selected and Abridged from Mr. Ireland's Illustrations, and Mr. Nicholl's Biographical Anecdotes of Hogarth (London, 1814).
(55.) From the catalog preface reprinted in Account of all the Pictures 11-13.
(56.) Wilkie to Perry Nursey, May 9, 1814; Whitley, Art in England 228-29.
(57.) The Morning Chronicle (May 7 & 10, 1814) review is conveniently available in The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, ed. P. P. Howe (London, 1930-1934) 18: 21-24. The Examiner (June 5 & 19, 1814) essay was reprinted in William Hazlitt, Round Table (Edinburgh, 1817); and again as an appendix to [William Hazlitt] Sketches of the Principal Picture-Galleries in England (London, 1824); Works of Hazlitt 4: 25-31; 10: 7-81.
(58.) Much of this attitude emerges in his essay "Fine Arts, Whether they are Promoted by Academies, and Public Institutions," originally published in The Champion (August 28, September 11, & October 2, 1814); Works of Hazlitt 18: 37-51.
(59.) From "Introduction to an Account of Sir Joshua Reynolds' Discourses: 3: On the Imitation of Nature," The Champion (December 25, 1814); Works of Hazlitt 18: 70.
(60.) The reference to "Epic Pictures" is from Hazlitt, "On Hogarth's 'Marriage a la Mode'"; Works of Hazlitt 4: 28. For the rarely invoked idea of Epic painting, see Charles E. Mitchell, "Benjamin West's Death of Nelson," Essays in the History of Architecture presented to Rudolf Wittkower, ed. Douglas Fraser, et al (London: Phaidon, 1967) 265-73. Central to this is Hazlitt, "Fine Arts, Whether Promoted by Academies...." The Academy itself he denounced as "a mercantile body," which he claimed "crush all generous views and liberal principles of art"; from a review of the purported Catalogue Raisonne for the 1815 BI "Ancient Masters" exhibition, "The Catalogue Raisonne of the British Institution," The Examiner (November 3, 1816); Works of Hazlitt 18: 104-11. An excellent introduction to Hazlitt's critical writings, which it should be recalled evolved over many years, is John Kinnaird, William Hazlitt, Critic of Power (New York: Columbia UP, 1978) 129-64. More specific to his 1816 essay on "Fine Arts" for the Encyclopedia Britannica supplement (Edinburgh, 1816); Works of Hazlitt 18: 111-24; but touching on many relevant points is John Barrell, "Benjamin Robert Haydon and William Hazlitt: Two Encyclopedia Articles," in his The Political Theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt: "the body of the public" (New Haven: Yale UP, 1986) 314-41. For Hazlitt and Hogarth, see Bindman, Hogarth and His Times 21-24.
(61.) The Champion (March 5, 1815); never included in any contemporary collection of Hazlitt's writings, the essay is conveniently available in Works of Hazlitt 18: 96-100. For an edited version with commentary, see Barbara Gaehtgens, Genremalerei (Berlin, 2002) 349-58. The Champion, edited by John Scott, a sometime friend to the Hunts, Hazlitt, and Haydon, was modeled on the Hunts' Examiner.
(62.) Hazlitt and Haydon apparently met in 1812: William Carew Hazlitt, Memoirs of William Hazlitt (London, 1867) 1: 209. For Hazlitt and Wilkie, who were not close, see Leigh Hunt, The Old Court Suburb: or Memorials of Kensington, 2nd rev. ed. (London, 1855) 1: 217-18; and The Life and Letters of William Bewick, ed. Thomas Landseer (London, 1871) 1: 127-28. Years later, writing to Walter Scott, Jan 22, 1828, Haydon seemingly claimed that he was introduced to both the Hunts and Hazlitt by Wilkie; Wilfred Partington, Sir Waiter's PostBag (London, 1932) 172-73, actually probably a reference to the Hunts alone. For an acknowledgment of his having met the Hunts through Wilkie, see Haydon, Correspondence and Table-Talk 1: 33. See also Robert Woof, "Haydon, Writer, and Friend of Writers," in Brown, Haydon, Painter and Writer 35-36, also 111-12. Wilkie had met the Hunt brothers as early as 1805, the year he began two illustrations for Classic Tales, Serious and Lively (London, 1806-1808) I, opp. p. 179, 2, opp. p. I, an anthology of stories edited by Leigh Hunt in conjunction with his brother Robert. The paintings are mentioned in Life of Wilkie I: 86-87. For their continuing relationship, see, for example, diary entries for 1808, 1809, 1811 in Life of Wilkie I: 172, 188, 226; Haydon, Correspondence and Table Talk I: 33; and Diary of Haydon I: 207-8. For their falling out, Diary of Haydon 2: 91 (January 29, 1817).
(63.) The term appears in Sketches of the Principal Galleries in England (London, 1824); Works of Hazlitt 10: 3; For Hunt's account of this epithet, Old Court Suburb I: 217-18. According to Wilkie's biographer Alan Cunningham, Hazlitt got the term from James Northcote; Life of Wilkie I: 115-16.
(64.) For a later defense of Wilkie when compared to Hogarth and the Dutch, see John Burnet's comments, supposedly written prior to Wilkie's 1841 death, in Burnet, Practical Essay on Various Branches of the Fine Arts. To Which is Added a Critical Inquiry into the Principles and Practices of the Late Sir David Wilkie (London, 1848) 101-3.
(65.) Letter of April 15, 1817; Haydon, Correspondence and Table-Talk 2:32-34. The letter also indicates that the visit was made within the week prior to the article's appearance. Years later, in conversation with Haydon, Hazlitt's friend James Northcote denied that there was any vindictive intention in the visit; Diary of Haydon 3: 131 (August 3, 1836), and although it also has been argued that this passage is a fabrication, there is no reason to doubt that a letter of introduction was provided: Stanley Jones, "Haydon and Northcote on Hazlitt: A Fabrication," Review of English Studies, new series 24 (1973): 165-78.
(66.) Diary of Haydon 2: 91 (January 29, 1817). Also see his summarized opinion in Taylor Life of Haydon I; 223.
(67.) Haydon to Wordsworth, April 15, 1817; Haydon, Correspondence and Table-Talk 2: 34.
(68.) As recorded in Henry Crabb Robinson's diary, March 4, 1811; Henry Crabb Robinson on Books and their Writers, ed. Edith J. Morley (London, 1938) 24. Leigh Hunt would claim that it was Hazlitt's resentment towards Wilkie's aristocratic patronage that motivated his attack; Hunt, Old Court Suburb I: 217-18.
(69.) Selby Whittingham, "What you Will; Some notes regarding the influence of Watteau on Turner and other British Artists," Turner Studies xv (1985): 7.
(70.) For these paintings, see Wilkie of Scotland 159-60, 162-64,; and Arthur S. Marks, "David Wilkie's 'Letter of Introduction,'" Burlington Magazine cx (1968): 125-33.
(71.) Besides the opportunity to see paintings by these masters in various private collections, Cleveland House, for example, the 1815 BI old masters show also had a wide selection of Dutch and Flemish artists; Smith, British Institution 156-61. See also the comments of Mount, "Wilkie and Heritage of British Art" 37.
(72.) For Rabbit on a Wall, see Life of Wilkie 1: 438-39. Writing June 6, 1815, to Samuel Dobree, who had previously had The Letter of Introduction, he notes that the Distraining, the only work he had recently been engaged upon, would be an unsuitable acquisition, "being neither a small nor a humorous subject"; Life of Wilkie 1: 437.
(73.) Memoirs of Raimbach 164. At the same time that he was responding to Hogarth, it is also conceivable that he was trying to surpass him through such an act of pathetic seriousness.
(74.) Life of Wilkie 1: 388, 435-36. For early expressions, 1808, of this search for independence, see Diary of Farington 9: 3194, 3232.
(75.) On the changing fortunes of tenant farmers at this time, see K. D. M. Snell, Annals of the Labouring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England, 1660-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985) 186-87, 192-93; and for the impact on Wilkie, Errington, Tribute to Wilkie 60-61. It has been noted that the scene also may have been provoked by Wilkie's own brief experience with an unwarranted distraining during the course of his 1812 solo show, when his paintings were seized for an unpaid debt of the landlord: Memoirs of Raimbach 113; and Whitley, Art in England 198.
(76.) As Errington notes, Wilkie took several of his expressions in the Distraining from Bell's Anatomy of Expression; Tribute to Wilkie 113-14, 149. This new sensitivity to expression and its anatomical underpinnings represented a major shift from the previous authoritative text, the often reprinted seventeenth century guide, Charles LeBrun, Conference Sur L'Expression (1st ed., Paris, 1698; 1st Engl. ed.; A Method to Learn to Design the Passions [London, 1734]). Hazlitt, for example, despised the mechanistic LeBrun volume: see his Morning Chronicle (February, 1814) review of Washington Allston's Dead Man Revived; Works of Hazlitt 18: 13-He had similar feelings about dramatic expression. Unfavorably referring in his 1814 review "On Mr. Wilkie's Pictures" to Liston's appearance "without any great effect" in The Village Festival, 1809. he compared it to Liston's acting, which like Hogarth's characters avoided stylization in favor of observed behavior; Works of Hazlitt 6: 140; 10: 15; 18: 99. He would repeat this Wilkie criticism in the 1818 Surrey lecture; in his 1824 review of the Angerstein Gallery; and yet again in 1828 in a play review; Works of Hazlitt 10: 15; 18: 403. For further on Hazlitt's dramatic criticism in the light of his admiration of Hogarth and naturalistic acting, see Roy Park, Hazlitt and the Spirit of the Age: Abstraction and Critical Theory (Oxford, 1971) 128-29; and Jim Davis, "'They Shew Me Off in Every Form and Way': The Iconography of English Comic Acting in the Later Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries," Theatre Research International 26 (2001): 243-56.
(77.) Press Cuttings, from English Newspapers 931-32, June 21, 1815. For Leigh Hunt's brother Robert's negative review, see The Examiner, June 4, 1815: 365.
(78.) Album of notes, press cuttings and other miscellanea concerning Sir David Wilkie (National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum; pressmark: 86 DD.22) 30-31.
(79.) A Catalogue Raisonnee of the Pictures now Exhibiting at Pall Mall (London, 1815) 40-41. The pamphlet is sometimes attributed to the Academician Robert Smirke. For the Catalogue, see also Pullan, "Public Goods" 37; and Fullerton, "Patronage and Pedagogy" 68-69. Despite his dislike of the Academy, by his account "a mercantile body" composed largely of "manufacturers of portraits," Hazlitt, prompted perhaps by Haydon, defended the Catalogue in "On the Catalogue Raisonnee of the British Institution," The Examiner (November 3, 10, & 16, 1816): for the November 3 article, see Works of Hazlitt 18: 104-11; and for an extended version of the other two parts, also reprinted in Round-Table, see Works of Hazlitt 4: 140-151.
(80.) Diary of Farington 13:4642 (June 9, 1815), 4643 (June 10), 4650 (June 21), 4652 (June 22). See also Taylor, Life of Haydon I: 345-47; and Brown and Owen, Beaumont 82-84.
(81.) See Diary of Farington, 13: 4643, 4652; and Smith, British Institution 170. From its origins the BI was meant to purchase outstanding works from the exhibition, usually history paintings that were then distributed to public institutions, but prior to the purchase of Distraining this had not been done for several years. The purchase of the Wilkie was noticed in a second edition of the Catalogue Raisonnee (London 1816) 40-41 note.
(82.) Autobiographical Recollections of Leslie I: 214-15. See also Memoirs of Raimbach 123, 164; and Smith British Institution 70.
(83.) For Pallett and other of Smollett's citations of the artist, see Ronald Paulson, "Smollett and Hogarth: The Identity of Pallet," Studies in English Literature 4 (1964): 351-59.
(84.) For the anecdote, see Young, Catalogue of the Works of Hogarth 17; and Nichols, Steevens, and Reed, Biographical Anecdotes of William Hogarth 42-44. For the engravings, Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works I: 202-4.
(85.) Wilkie recounted the incident in a letter to Raimbach, October 8, 1816; Life of Wilkie 1: 449-50. Again recalling Hogarth's adventure and possibly affecting his own, George Morland, in a well publicized story, had once been arrested as a spy while drawing, except that he had been on the Isle of Wight: see George Dawe, The Life of George Morland (London, 1807) 159-61; and John Hassell, Morland 38-39.
(86.) The passage is from an extensive description in a Wilkie letter to the Earl of Leven, November 28, 1816: als, Scottish Record Office, GD/26/13/301. See also Victoire de Soligny [i.e. Peter George Patmore], Letters on England (London, 1823) 1: 166-67; Life of Wilkie 1: 440-41, 457-59; and Young, Collection of Pictures at Cleveland House 2: 101-2.
(87.) For Wilkie's attempt to break away from commissioned works, see, for example, Mollett, Wilkie 32; Diary of Farington 9: 3194 (January 10, 1808), 3232 (March I, 1909); and for the atypical works he showed at the BI, Tromans, Painter of Everyday Life 20-21.
(88.) These were preceded by studio studies of Susannah and the Elders, Musidora, both 1815, and Diana and Actaeon, 1817, for which see Miles, Sir David Wilkie 47-50. For the Bathsheba criticism, Album of notes concerning Wilkie 29; and similar comments in The Champion, February 15, 1818:109 and Examiner, February 15, 1818: 107. John Keats remarked that it was "condemned"; The Letters of John Keats, 1814-1821, ed. Hyder E. Rollins (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1958) 1: 235-36. In his 1818 Surrey Institute lecture "On Bums, and the old English Ballads," Hazlitt criticized it using the same Herring and Hogarth comparison as a foil that he used in his previous Wilkie article: Lectures on the English Poets: Delivered at the Surrey Institution (London, 1818); Works of Hazlitt 5: 141. Unsold, the Bacchanalians remained in the artist's possession; Life of Wilkie 2: 14, 27, 29 Of it The Champion observed, the "figures are coarse, repulsive and out of drawing," and the painting was "one of those errors men of genius make when they desert their proper spheres"; Whitley, An in England 314. The fleshiness of his nudes suggests that like Haydon and recalling Hogarth, Wilkie was part of a reaction, encouraged for example by Charles Bell, that favored naturalistic representations to idealized figures: see Ilana Bignamini, "The Artist's Model from Lely to Hogarth"; and Martin Postle, "The Artist's Model from Reynolds to Etty"; both in Bignamini and Postle, The Artist's Model: Its Role in British An from Lely to Etty (Nottingham: University Art Gallery 1991) 14-15, 20-21, 23, 51-52, 73-74.
(89.) The following year at the BI he showed The Death of the Red Deer; for these works, see Wilkie of Scotland 175-81; and Tromans, Painter of Everyday Life 82.
(90.) Along these lines, David Irwin refers to the Reading as "a retrograde painting"; Scottish Painters 176.
(91.) Possibly a response to the Surrey lecture, a defense of Wilkie over Hogarth, Morland, Wheatley and the Dutch, was included in George Stanley, "A Cursory View of the State of Painting in England, from the Reign of Henry the Eighth to the Present Time," Annals of the Fine Arts IV (1819): 30-31.
(92.) William Hazlitt, "The Works of Hogarth--On the Grand and Familiar Style of Painting," Lectures on the English Comic Writers, Delivered at the Surry (sic) Institution (London, 1819) 266-301; Works of Hazlitt 6: 133-49; ostensibly the Hogarth material came from the Round Table, that on Wilkie from The Champion 279-85, and the remainder is largely new material.
(93.) Life of Wilkie 1: 148. Later both Lamb in his Hogarth essay, and Hazlitt in the Surrey lecture would favorably compare Hogarth to Smollett and Fielding; "On the English Novelists," from the Lectures on the English Comic Writers; Works of Hazlitt 6: 106-32.
(94.) Indeed, in general few artists took up subjects from Smollett; Richard Altick, Paintings for Books: Art and Literature in Britain, 1760-1850 (Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1985) 400-401.
(95.) An 1819 drawing with the dealer Colnaghi in May 1959 has the door to the left. Besides the drawings, in 1819, Wilkie who had recently taken up dry point also produced a print, reversed, of the central group gathered about the lawyer: Campbell Dodgson, "The Etchings of Sir David Wilkie, RA," Walpole Society Annual XI (1923): 178. Although several prominent Scottish painters also engraved, Wilkie also may have been inspired as a printmaker by Hogarth.
(96.) See Brown, Wilkie: Drawings and Sketches, nos. 25-29. Earlier, such a figure also can be found in The Rent Day, 1809.
(97.) In The Antiquary (Edinburgh, 1816), referring to his friend, Scott remarked (chapter 31) that a fisherman's cottage offered a scene that Wilkie "alone could have painted." For further on Wilkie and Scott, see Arthur S. Marks, "Testaments to a Friendship: David Wilkie's Portraits of Scott," SiR 17 (1998): 351-93.
(98.) Given the importance of theater for Wilkie, it is worth noting that without the incident of a reading of a will Scott's novel was adapted for the stage: Daniel Terry, Guy Mannering: or, the Gipsy's Prophecy: A Musical Play (London, 1816), first performed March 12, 1816 at Covent Garden, which went through eighteen performances with a cast that included John Liston; and by Thomas Atwood and Henry R. Bishop, Guy Mannering, A Musical Play (London, 1816): see Jim Davis, John Liston Comedian (London: Society for Theatre Research, 1985) 35-36; and Henry A. White, Sir Walter Scott's Novels on the Stage (New Haven: Yale UP, 1927) 8-33, 235-36. In 1832, however, in costumes of the "beginning of the present century," Wilkie's "The Reading of the Will" and The Village Politicians were used as virtual tableaux vivants in J. B. Buckstone, The Forgery; or, The Reading of the Will, first performed in March, 1832.
(99.) For these details, and others described as the "iconography of property," see Dietrich, "Picture for the Bavarian King" 38-39. The only apparent link between the two is a drawing in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, which has a rectangular half-length portrait, seemingly of a woman, on the wall. However, the oil sketch now at Yale, has neither a portrait nor map on the wall, suggesting that at that point at least there was not yet a settled underlying narrative.
(100.) See Solkin, "Crowds and Connoisseurs" 156-71; and Harry Mount, "'The Pan-and-Spoon Style': The Role of the Accessories in David Wilkie's Academy Pictures 1806-1809," British Art Journal 4, no. 3 (2003): 17-26.
(101.) John G. Lockhart, Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk (Edinburgh, 1819) 2: 261-62. Having met Sophia Scott in 1818, he married her in 1820.
(102.) For his career, see Jonathan Curling, Janus Weathercock, The Life of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, 1794-1847 (London, 1938). As an artist working in a Fuselian manner, he exhibited at the RA, 1821-1825.
(103.) The review is conveniently available in Carew Hazlitt, Memoirs of Hazlitt 1: 87-88. The London Magazine, where the review appeared originally, was edited by John Scott, one-time editor of The Champion. For the topos of the ignorant visitor, see Andrew Hemingway, "Art Exhibitions as Leisure-Class Rituals in Early Nineteenth-Century London," in Allen, ed., Modern Art World 102; and more generally, Solkin, "Crowds and Connoisseurs."
(104.) Haydon, Diary 1: 5 (July 23, 1808), and 4, for a comparable remark in the same entry about the English taste for Netherlandish paintings. See also Henry Mount, "'The Pan-and-Spoon Style': The Role of the Accessories in David Wilkie's Academy Pictures 1806-1809," British Art Journal 4.3 (2003): 17-26.
(105.) For his friendship and eventual falling out with Hazlitt and his acquaintance with Wilkie, Curling, Wainwright 95-96, 170-204.
(106.) Yet even in the Chelsea Pensioners he may have introduced a Hogarthian note. The Irwins suggest that the Chelsea street setting owes much to Hogarth's Canvassing for Votes; Scottish Painters 172-73.
(107.) The Works of William Hogarth, from the Original Plates Restored by James Heath to which are added A Biographical Essay on The Genius and Production of Hogarth by John Nichols (London, 1822) iii-x.
(108.) Life of Wilkie 2: 106-7; and Wilkie of Scotland 301. The Trunnion study probably dates from the same time as several other drawings of Greenwich pensioners now at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, which may have been done as studies for a more ambitious work, a pendant to the Chelsea Pensioners, with naval veterans shown celebrating the Battle of" Trafalgar. Nothing else is known of such a work, but with an 1835 commission from Wellington, Wilkie's friend John Burnet did eventually complete Greenwich Pensioners Commemorating the Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in Greenwich Park shown in 1837 at the BI.
(109.) For the breakdown and the circumstances that led to it, see Memoirs of Raimbach 172-74; and Ivor Bachelor, "Sir David Wilkie's Psychiatric State," in Wilkie of Scotland 98. In conversation with Haydon, July 13, 1826, the neoclassical sculptor John Flaxman blamed the breakdown on Wilkie's predilection for "miniature painting," that is his concern for smaller narrative details; Haydon, Diary 3: 120.
(110.) Leigh Hunt later claimed that his "attempt at higher subjects, and a deeper tone in paintings," came about "in conjunction with the provocation given him by Hazlitt and jealous brother artists"; Hunt, Old Court Suburb 1: 225.
(111.) For this widely acknowledged shift in his work, see the early analysis in Burnet, Practical Essays 109-24; and a more recent account, William J. Chiego, "David Wilkie and History Painting," in Wilkie of Scotland 21-47.
(112.) I follow here the discussion of A. D. Potts, "British Romantic Art through German Eyes," in "Sind Briten hier?": Relations between British and Continental Art 1680-1880 (Munich, 1981) 181-205. Also see Karl Friedrich Schinkel, "The English Journey": Journal of a Visit to France and Britain in 1826, eds. David Bindman and Gottfried Riemann (New Haven: Yale UP, 1993) 19, 101. For the "verburglichte" taste, Hardtwig, "Max Joseph als Kunstammler," 428-29. On the English and the question of the state supported arts in Germany, see William Vaughan, German Romanticism and English Art (New Haven: Yale UP, 1979) 44-49; and for a demonstration of this public/private divide in Bavaria, compare Friedrich Pecht, Geschichte der Munchen Kunst in neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Munich, 1888) who barely mentions Wilkie's followers, e.g. 90-91, 152-54, but gives most attention to the official state engendered projects under Max Joseph and Ludwig 124-186. For some measure of Wilkie's impact, see Rudolf Oldenburg, Die Munchener Malerei im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Munich, 1922) 1: 141-43, 2: 163. As for Hogarth, there had been a long-standing Geman interest within the realm of German print culture, notably in the 1770s when he found an imitator in the engraver Daniel Chowdiecki: see Bindman, Hogarth and his Times 25, 78-79. See also the commentaries of his great admirer, Count G. G. Lichtenberg, Ausfuhrliche Erklarung der Hogarthischer Kupferstiche (Gottingen, 1794-1734); and for more on this subject Immel, Die Deutsche Genremalerei 68-76; and William Vaughan, "'Consciously objective and moral': Hogarth and the Political Artists in Vormarz Germany," in Payne and Vaughan, English Accents 155-77.
(113.) Writing from Manheim, October 13, 1833; Sir William W. Knighton, Memoirs of Sir William Knighton, Bart. (London, 1838) 2: 363.
(114.) As a group these imitative works are identified in Immel, Die Deutsche Genremalerei 77-81. Wilkie's influence is further discussed in Immel "Die Verklarung des Alltaglichen. Zum Genrebild im 19. Jahrhundert," in Martina Sitt and Uta Ricke Immel, Angesichts des Altaglichen Genremotive in Der Malereie zwischen 1830 und 1900; aus dem Bestand des Kunstmueum Dusseldorf in Ehrendorf mit Sammlung der Kunstakademie NRW (Cologne, 1996) 11-14.
(115.) For the various prints, the Burnet included, that were done after Reading a Will, see Life of Wilkie 2:40-41, 115-16, 321-22; Memoirs of Raimbach 122-23; and Nagler, Kunstler-Lexicon 22:340. The print Wilkie dedicated to Max. i Joseph and acknowledged the king's generous patronage, but in doing so the question is also raised if there was any memory of the anecdote surrounding Hogarth's dedication of The March to Finchley to Frederick lI, King of Prussia; for which see John Ireland, Hogarth Illustrated 2:141-42; Diary of Farington 8:2980; Young, Descriptive Catalogue of Hogarth 26; and Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works I: 279.
(116.) For the difficulties attending his seeing the painting, see Life of Wilkie 1: 317-21.
(117.) See Life of Wilkie 2: 381-82; Hardtwig, "Max Joseph als Kunstsammler" 428, 432; and the remarks of Hans Reidelbach, Konig Ludiwg 1 von Bayern und Seine Kunstschopfungen (Munich, 1888) 171-72. The king's only other British painting was apparently a George Morland fisherman scene; Hardtwig; "Max Joseph als Kunstsammler" 431. For George IV's renewed attempt to obtain the painting, again using Thomas Lawrence as his agent, see Letters of King George IV, 1812-1830, ed. Arthur Aspinall (Cambridge, 1938) 3: 164; and Life of Wilkie 2: 318-20. Another account of his seeing the painting is in a rare pamphlet, Edward Willes, A Letter to Charles Stonhouse, Esq., formerly pupil to Sir David Wilkie (Lausanne, 1842), for which see Notes and Queries, Series 4, IV (1869): 234, 306.
(118.) As Walter Scott, conveying the opinion of a friend, informed him, February 1, 1830; Life of Wilkie 3: 36.
(119.) From the John Murray guidebook, A Handbook for Travellers in Southern Germany (London, 1837) 49-50.
(120.) See, for example, Werner Mittelmeier, Die Neue Pinakothek in Munchen 1843-1854; Planung, Baugeschichte und Fresken (Munich, 1977) 132, 189-237.
(121.) From Bruno Grimschitz, Ferdinand George Waldmuller (Salzburg, 1957) 76-77; and for his paintings in the manner of Wilkie 296 300, 302, 308, 312.
(122.) For Wilkie and Hasenclaver and the influence generally of English genre painters on Dusseldorf artists, see Ute Ricke-Immel, "Die Dusseldorfer Genremalerei," in Wend von Kalenin, Die Dusseldorfer Malerschule (Mainz, 1979) 152-55, 324; and Sitt and Ricke-Immel, Angesichts des alltagliche Genremotive 34-35, 52-53, 68-69, 74, 96, 101-2.
(123.) For the translation, see Rainer Schuren, Die Romane Walter Scotts in Deutschland (Berlin, 1963) 16-27. It also was dramatized: William von Gersdorf, Meg Merrilies, die Zigeunerin, oder Guy Mannering, der Sterndeuter (Leignitz, 1818); for which see Rainer Schuren, Die Romane Walter Scotts in Deutschland (Berlin, 1969) 126-27; and White, Scott's Novels on Stage 31, but as with the English stage productions, no reading of a will was included.
(124.) Born in Munich, Petzl was at the Academy from 1821-1827. The link between Petzl's now lost painting and Reading a Will, which "sichtlich den Impuls gegeben hatte," is made in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 25 (Leipzig, 1887) 545. See also Friedrich yon Boetticher, Malerwerke des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (Dresden, 1891-1901) 2.1: 254; and Bruckmanns Lexikon der Munchenerkunst: Munchner Maler im 19. Jahrhundert (Munich, 1981-1983) 3: 272-74.
(125.) The painting was included the following year at the city's Akademie Kunstausstellung: see yon Boetticher, Maletwerke 1.1: 203; Immel, Die Deutsche Genremalerei 214-16; and Veronika Birke, Joseph Danhauser (1805-1845), Gemalde und Zeichnungen (Vienna, 1983) 10-11, 61-65, 114-17. The 1839 vers10n is in the Galerie des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Vienna, and the other, included in the 1844 Kunstlerpensionsvereinaustellung, is in a Graz private collection.
(126.) For de Vletter, see Pieter A. Scheen, Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldend Kunstenaars 1780-1950 ('s-Gravenhage, 1969-1970) 2: 523: and for Hunin, von Boetticher, Malerwerke 1.2: 595; Biographie Nationale de Belgium, (Brussels, 1886), colls. 740-41; and P. and V. Berko, Dictionary of Belgian Painters born between 1750 and 1875 (Brussels, 1981) 358-59.
(127.) On Fluggen's election as an honorary member of the Munich Akademie der Kunste in 1832, he was described by Wilhelm yon Kaulbach as someone on whom, "den ehren Beinamen eines deutschen Wilkie belegen": Johann Jacob Merlost, Kolnische Kunstler in Alter und Neuer Zeit (new ed., Dusseldorf, 1895), cols. 241-43. See also von Boetticher, Malerwerke 1.1: 314; and Lexikon der Munchenerkunst 1: 351-52.
(128.) For Geyer, see Lexikon der Munchenerkunst 2: 23-24. His painting presently hangs in the Rathaus, Charlottenburg, Berlin.
(129.) The Painting is now in the Narodni Museum, Poznan, Poland: see Barbara Hokel, Christian Ludwig Bokelman, Monographie und Katalog (Frankfurt am Main, 1985) 27, 76-77, 98-99; and for Die Testamentsverfassung his 1886 prequel, a bourgeois scene of an older man writing his will in the presence of various heirs 102-3. See also von Boetticher, Malerwerke 1.1: 115.
(130.) Around 1820, Edward F. Burney, a lesser artist, produced four large water colors with comical musical themes that have been linked to Hogarth; see Patricia Crown, "Visual Music: E. F. Burney and a Hogarth Revival," Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, 83.4 (1980): 435-72, which despite its title does not deal with the larger Hogarthian revival.
(131.) All from Haydon's diary hst of works; Diary of Haydon 5: 590. For the paintings, see David Blayney Brown, "'Fire and Clay'--Benjamin Robert Haydon, Historical Painter," in Haydon, Painter and Writer 16-17, also 143-47; and Millar, Collection of Her Majesty the Queen 1: 48-49. For Wilkie's admiration of the Punch, see Haydon, Correspondence and Table-Talk I: 153; and Diary of Haydon 3:385 (August 1, 1829), where Haydon noted "We thought it odd he should tumble into History and I into Burlesque."
(132.) The 1814 English masters' exhibition at the BI had included Hogarth's Canvassing for Votes and Chairing the Member: see John Young, Descriptive Catalogue of Hogarth 21-25; and Paulson, Hogarth: His Life 2: 191-96, 219-27. Whether they relate to this commission or not, Wilkie drawings for election scenes are known, including a hustings view in which the figures wear eighteenth-century dress.
(133.) For the survival of interest in Hogarth, an artist much admired by the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers, see, for example, Kenneth Bendiner, Introduction to Victorian Painting (New Haven: Yale UP, 1985) 17-21, 30-35, 37-38; and Deborah Cherry, "The Hogarth Club: 1858-1861," Burlington Magazine CXXII (1980): 237-44.
(134.) It also became available as part of the posthumous compendium of engravings [William H. Bartlett] The Wilkie Gallery (London, 1848-1850) 40-41.
(135.) See Autobiographical Recollections of Leslie 2: 280. Formerly in the Whitworth Art Gallery, Victoria University of Manchester, the painting was sold at Christie's, December 20, 1968.
(136.) For Hardy, the colony and Wilkie's influence, see Andrew Greg, The Cranbrook Colony (Wolverhampton: The Gallery, 1977); and Christopher Neve, "Painters who went to the Weald; F. D. Hardy at the Cranbrook Colony," Country Life CLXI (March 24, 1977): 720-21. In other ways the scene as a depiction from the Scott novel lost its significance. For example, it was not represented in Six Engravings in Illustration of Guy Mannering for the Members of the Royal Association for Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1866).
(137.) Diary of Haydon 2:461 (February 6, 1824). See also Haydon's list of the painters who by his account descended from himself, Wilkie and Turner; Diary of Haydon 3: 99-100 (May 14, 1826).
(138.) "On Envy," from William Hazlitt, The Plain Speaker: Opinions on Books, Men and Things (London, 1826); reprinted in Works of Hazlitt II: 97.
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|Title Annotation:||David Wilkie, William Hogarth, and William Hazlitt|
|Author:||Marks, Arthur S.|
|Publication:||Studies in Romanticism|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2009|
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