WILKIE, Sir David
(b. 1785, Cults, Fife, d. 1841, off Malta)

Sotiri, Dragoman of Mr Colquhoun

Watercolour, gouache and oil over pencil, 475 x 328 mm
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Wilkie's visit to Jerusalem, culminating with his death off Gibraltar on his way home in 1841, was intended to furnish more accurate documentation for biblical subjects, which he saw as the logical conclusion of his progress from narrative to historical painting. The beautiful coloured studies of the people he encountered, mainly in Constantinople where he was delayed for some time, were incidental to this greater ambition.