David Wilkie was born in Fife; the son of a vicar. He attended the Trustee’s Academy in Edinburgh from 1799 and enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools in 1805. In the following year he received a commission for ‘Village Politicians’, which was hung in a prime position at the Royal Academy exhibition and attracted further important patrons. He was elected a full member of the Academy in 1811. His most widely-known work, ‘Chelsea Pensioners’, was commissioned by the Duke of Wellington in 1820. Wilkie was appointed the King’s Painter in Ordinary in 1830. In 1840, he travelled to the Holy Land to gather material for biblical subjects. On the return journey he suffered a sudden illness and died. He was buried at sea, off the coast of Malta.
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