A Young Woman kneeling at a Prayer Desk

A young lady kneels before an altar on which two tall candles have been lit. Her hands are touched in prayer on a large open Bible, but we have interrupted her devotions and she turns to look at us.

The writing in a Gothic script above the altarpiece is the first part of the Lord's Prayer: 'Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done.' This small portrait, remarkably rich in colour and deft in its painterly technique, is reminiscent of an old master painting.

The portrait is believed to be of Lady Augusta Phipps, the 12-year-old daughter of the 1st Earl Mulgrave. Wilkie captures with great accuracy and delicacy the face of a young girl poised between childhood and adulthood. The picture has an added poignancy because it was painted in 1813, the year Lady Augusta died.

Key facts

Artist dates
1785 - 1841
Full title
A Young Woman kneeling at a Prayer Desk
Date made
Medium and support
Oil on mahogany
34 × 25.5 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought with the support of a generous legacy from Miss Marcia Lay, 2014
Inventory number
Location in Gallery