WILKIE, Sir David (1785–1841), painter of genre, historical subjects, and portraits. Three autograph letters signed in the third person, each 1 side of an 8vo bifolium to the Marshall family as follows:
- to Mrs Marshall, regrettably unable to accept an evening invitation in view of a previous engagement at the Royal Academy, dated Kensington April 23rd 1834.
- to Mr & Mrs Marshall, accepting a dinner invitation for Tuesday next the 23rd, dated Kensington February 20th 1836.
- to Mrs Marshall, regrettably unable to accept Mr & Mrs Marshall’s invitation to meet with Mrs Wordsworth on the 16th ‘owing to an engagement of a fortnight ago’, dated Vicarage Place, Kensington, May 14th 1839, with its original envelope.
Wilkie’s invitations came from the wealthy linen manufacturer John Marshall (1765–1845) and his wife Jane née Pollard (1765–1849). John Marshall of Leeds pioneered the mechanisation of flax spinning, transforming linen manufacture into a factory based industry. He married Jane Pollard (circa 1795), daughter of a William Pollard, a Halifax wool-stapler and linen-merchant, who had attended the same school as Dorothy Wordsworth in Halifax, from which a lasting close friendship developed between Dorothy, William and Mary Wordsworth and the Marshalls.
One of John Marshall’s enthusiasms was as a patron of the arts which brought him into contact with several major living artists of his day including David Wilkie. By the 1830s Wilkie’s style had changed from genre painting to larger scale dramatic history painting, and in 1836 John Marshall purchased Wilkie’s Napoleon and the Pope in Conference at Fontainebleau.