William Mulready, R.A. 1786 - 1863
The Village Buffoon
Photo: R.A./John Hammond
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The Village Buffoon, 1816
Oil on canvas, 763 X 636 mm
Diploma Work given by William Mulready, R.A., accepted 1816
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This picture depicts a scene outside a cottage where the ‘Village Buffoon’, a grotesque elderly man, attempts to woo a young girl. She shrinks from his attentions into the shadows of the cottage wall. By contrast her sister stares at this unorthodox suitor in innocent awe, while her mother sits upright as though preparing to chase him off. The buffoon’s silver tipped cane, spats and shiny shoes suggest that some new-found wealth has given him the vain confidence to make this unwelcome approach.

The compositional structure is typical of Mulready. In the manner of Pieter de Hooch (1629–1684) he often set his compositions against buildings which framed the main narrative and positioned the central figure in the brightest light. These scenes typically open up to reveal further figures such as the lone boy standing before the high wall.

Frames associated with this work