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    David Wilkie's 1835-36 image of a cabin in the west of Ireland featuring the Peep-o'-Day Boys. (click to enlarge).

    THIS striking image by David Wilkie (1785-1841) is entitled The Peep-o’-Day Boys’ Cabin, in the West of Ireland.  It features in the Romantics exhibition at Tate Britain, Millbank, London until July 2011.  The nine room display in the Clore Galleries presents Romantic art in Britain, its origins, inspirations and legacies. It showcases major works by Henry Fuseli, JMW Turner, John Constable, Samuel Palmer and William Blake.

    In 1835 the Scottish artist David Wilkie visited Ireland, and compared it to Spain for its picturesque potential.  This picture was exhibited the following year.  According to the Tate notes the picture evokes the  ‘state of primeval simplicity’ he found in Galway and Connemara, while underplaying the political and religious unrest implied by the title.  The Peep-o’Day Boys were Protestant guerrillas. They raided Catholic rebels at dawn, during uprisings in the 1780s and 90s. Wilkie had first planned a more contentious subject: a Whiteboy, from another group who championed oppressed tenants.

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