Today in 1785 Sir David Wilkie, the Scottish painter, was born.
Son of the minister in the parish of Cults in Fife, Wilkie's talent was precocious: the self-portrait opposite was painted when he was only 20, and indeed by the early age of 19 he had produced one of his most famous works, 'Pitlessie Fair'. He sketched the faces of his Fife neighbours during church services to use in this work, and the accuracy of detail of real-life characters was a trait for which Wilkie was renowned. He became one of the most sought-after society portrait painters of his day. His detailed paintings of events mean that his pictures are often used for historic illustrations, most notably his painting of John Knox preaching in the pulpit.