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(b Cults, nr. Cupar, Fife, 18 Nov. 1785; d at sea, off Gibraltar, 1 June 1841). Scottish painter, active mainly in London. He is principally famous as the most popular genre painter of his time, but he also produced historical subjects and portraits. Wilkie trained in Edinburgh and then in 1805 moved to London, where he studied briefly at the Royal Academy Schools. His Village Politicians (priv. coll.) was the hit of the RA exhibition of 1806, helping to establish him as a leading figure in his profession at a remarkably early age: in 1811 he was elected a Royal Academician when he still only 25 (younger even than Turner had been when he reached this milestone). He was strongly influenced in technique and subject matter by 17th-century Netherlandish artists such as Ostade and Teniers, and the public loved the wealth of lively and often humorous incident in his paintings.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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