Like the Canterbury Pilgrims by Thomas Stothard which the Art Fund helped Canterbury to buy in 1975 this picture has an obvious local association.

It shows Opie, the Cornish Wonder, who was launched on London in 1781, attempting a history piece in the Grand Manner advocated by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds himself described 0pie as 'like Caravaggio, but finer', a comment which the dramatic lighting in the present picture does something to explain if little to justify. Opie's work in this vein, much of it done for Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, was very popular. He was elected an RA in 1787, and in 1806, the year before he died, he became Professor of Painting at the Academy in succession to Fuseli.



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