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The Penny Wedding

David Wilkie

The Penny Wedding

David Wilkie
  • Date: 1818
  • Style: Romanticism
  • Genre: genre painting
  • Media: oil, panel
  • Tag: celebrations-and-festivals
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Wilkie chose to depict a type of marriage ceremony, common in Scotland, where the guests each paid a penny towards the expenses and anything left over went towards the couple’s new home. The subject was already known, having been treated by David Allen (1744-96) in a painting in Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick. The idea of the subject would seem to be that no richer couple could be happier, more loving, gracious and handsome, and no father of the bride could offer hospitality more generous and convivial than this, laid on by the community as a whole. Money certainly couldn’t buy a better fiddler than Niel Gow (1727-1807), clearly recognisable here; Robert Burns’s description of his ‘kind open-heartedness, mixed with unmistrusting simplicity’ would probably sum up Wilkie’s intention in the scene as a whole.

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