National Gallery Acquires Scottish Masterpiece with Art Teacher’s Funds
A long-lost painting by the Scottish artist Sir David Wilkie, entitled A Young Woman Kneeling at a Prayer Desk (1813), went on display yesterday at London’s National Gallery, alongside works by J. M. W. Turner, John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds, Art Daily reports.
The acquisition was made possible thanks to a Birmingham art teacher called Marcia Lay. When Lay died in June 2012, she left a generous donation to the National Gallery in her will, a gift that has been completely devoted to fund the purchase of the Wilkie painting.
A Young Woman Kneeling at a Prayer Desk was discovered by the London-based art dealer Ben Elwes, who identified the painting as a Wilkie while flicking through the catalogue of a sale in New York. “I know the work of Wilkie very well and I could see straight away that this was a painting of very great quality. It was tremendously exciting to make this discover,” he told Art Daily.
The painting was last seen in 1872, when it was put up for sale by a relative of the 1st Earl of Mulgrave. It is believed that the child depicted in the painting was the daughter of the Earl, Lady Augusta Phipps, who died in 1813 (the year the painting was made), aged just 12.
Wilkie’s A Young Woman Kneeling at a Prayer Desk is the second Scottish artwork to enter the collection of the National Gallery.
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