The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

November 18, 2013

November 18, 1785

David Wilkie (November 18, 1785 to June 1, 1841) was a Scottish painter. This drawing of a cat is not typical. He did scenes of humble life often,  genre paintings. And portraits. His career earned honors, beyond his being a member of the Royal Academy. 

David Wilkie was in 1823 made Limner to the King of Scotland. His mother and unmarried sister were living with him in London, after his fathers death. A brother in Canada, and another in India, died around this time, leaving widows and children which became the responsibility of the Scottish painter. His health was broken by the strain as the prose goes, and he had to spend several years in a warm climate to recover. But he did, and to quote a 19th century source

In 183o, on the death of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Wilkie was appointed Painter in Ordinary to George Iv., an office which he retained under both William iv. and Victoria....

In June, 1836, Wilkie was knighted by King William Iv.; in the following year he removed to Vicarage Place, Kensington, where he built a “beau-ideal of a studio,” and where the last years of his life in London were passed.

He died suddenly. The son of a poor country clergyman who persevered to renown for his talent, was praised by, Lord Ronald Gower, for a life of

constant, earnest, honest work. . . . As an artist he had great and original talent; as a friend he was true and loyal; and as a son and a brother he was most self-sacrificing and devoted. In all respects David Wilkie was an honest man, of whom all Scotchmen may be justly proud.

His drawing of a cat summarizes his genius: the cat is not just well-observed and skillfully portrayed but with a visible. warmth of character captured.

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