The picturesque, in its basic sense of a vision of reality guided through the optic of the classic painters of the past, was a constant characteristic of David Wilkie's imagery. In the Scottish Enlightenment's models of visual culture, the direct experience of the objects of vision was equated as much with feeling as with dispassionate analysis. The realism that Wilkie was seen to have achieved with his first pictures evaporated after about 1815, and the exhaustion just referred to was signalled by the more intrusive semantic structures that Wilkie imported into his genre scenes in the post-war years. Dark, rich, Baroque colouring, along with nostalgic visions of an earthily decent Scottishness, became the hallmarks of the ‘fine old Scotch school’ to which Walter Sickert paid tribute in 1910 upon its passing into history with the death of W. Q. Orchardson.
Keywords: David Wilkie; Scottish Enlightenment; visual culture; realism; Scottishness; Walter Sickert; W. Q. Orchardson
Chapter. 1754 words.
Subjects: Cultural Studies
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