The Sale of the Pet Lamb

Description by Wilkie Collins

In the course of this year, Mr. Collins produced a picture, the success of which at once eclipsed the more moderate celebrity of all his former works; it was "The Sale of the Pet Lamb," purchased by Mr. Ogden. Composed as it was during the season immediately following his fatherís death, the simple yet impressive pathos it displayed, was a natural consequence of the temper of his mind at the period of its production. It pleased at once and universally. People ignorant of the simplest arcana of art, gazed on it as attentively and admiringly as the connoisseur who applauded the graces of its treatment, or the artist who appreciated the elaboration of its minutest parts. The sturdy urchin indignantly pushing away the butcherís boy, who reluctantly and good-humouredly presses forward to lead the dumb favourite of the family to the greedy slaughter-house; the girl, tearfully remonstrating with her mother, who, yielding to the iron necessities of want, is receiving from the master butcher the price of the treasured possession that is now forfeited for ever; the child offering to the lamb the last share of her simple breakfast that it can ever enjoy, were incidents which possessed themselves, unresisted, of the feelings of all who beheld them; from the youthful spectators who hated the butcher with all their souls, to the cultivated elders, who calmly admired the truthful ease with which the rustic story was told, or sympathized with the kindly moral which the eloquent picture conveyed. From this work, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1813, two engravings were produced; and from fourteen to fifteen thousand impressions of the smaller print alone were dispersed among the many who recollected it with admiration and delight.

Wilkie Collins Memoirs of the Life of William Collins R.A. vol I pp49-50.

Image of an engraving of the painting.

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