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OR, MONTHLY REPORT OF
The memoirs of Mr. Macklin, having been published in two large volumes—to them we refer our readers for a full account of this very singular character. The few pages we could devote to the subject would very imperfectly trace the outlines of a life, so full of interest and variety.
MR. DAVID WILKIE,
Is a native of the northern division of our island, where his father is miuister of Coults, a small village in the county of Fife, Here, we believe, he was born in the year 1786, and after receiving the best education his father had it in his power to give him, he was placed in 1801 at the academy of Mr. Graham, in Edinburgh, to Study drawing. In this pursuit, to which it is mofe than probable that he was directed by some secret propensity, he made such a proficiency, that he was soon distinguished above all his companions for his drawings from the antique; and in 1803 he obtained the premium for the best historical drawing.
The first finished oil-painting that he is known to have produced exhibits a representation of a fair at his native village. Into this piece he has introduced about one hundred and forty figures, many of which are portraits.
Vol. IV. J.
Among these are his father and several of the farmer* and rustics of the village, whose likenesses he took ut church, for which profane conduct, as the rigid preaby~ teritins would deem it, very heavy complaints were made to the father of the youthful artist. The number of figures in this picture appears, at first sight, to be so great, that the spectator would suppose there could not be less than five hundred; yet the management of the various groups and of the light and shade is so excellent, that he has bustle and tumult without confusion, and the eye is agreeably led through the various scenes of rustic merriment without being fatigued.
This delmeation of the whimsical incidents of a coun-try fair, in which young Wilkie displayed great talent for humour, was executed at a time when he knew little of the method of painting in oil, and for this reason it has not that clearness of touch so conspicuous in his subsequent productions. He shewed it, when finished, to his instructor, Mr. Graham, who was highly astonished to see so superior a performance by so young an artist, 'and earnestly advised him to prosecute the study of that department of the art, adding, that it was the path in which he would be certain to excel. This picture, we have been informed, was purchased of him for fifty guineas by the lady of Mr. W'hitbrend.
Eager after improvement, and desirous of availing* himself of the resources afforded by the metropolis, Mr. Wilkie repaired to London early in the year 1805, and became u student of the Royal Academy. Here he devoted himself with extraordinary assiduity to the study of the profession he had adopted. As he was unable to rind purchasers, even at very low prices, for pictures executed in the style in which he so highly excels, he was at first obliged to confine his pencil to portraits.
His talents were thus buried in obscurity till the exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1806. Some time prior to this he had received a commission from Lord Mansfield to paint a picture from any subject he might think proper. Mr. Wilkie selected one from Macniel's celebrated poem entitled Scotland's Scaith, or the history of Will and Jean. All who are acquainted with the work must acknowledge that he could not have made a more judicious choice of a scene, as it forms one of the most prominent features in the poem, which is intended to enforce the idea, that excessive drinking and po