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Oil painting - The Sonnet
  • The Sonnet
    Mulready, William RA, born 1786 - died 1863
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The Sonnet

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1839 (exhibited)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mulready, William RA, born 1786 - died 1863 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 82, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case EAST WALL

This was one of Mulready's most popular works. The young man is courting the girl, and has written a poem for her as a token of his love. A critic observed: 'The youth is fiddling with his shoe-tie, but casting a upwards sly look, to ascertain what effect his lines produce upon the merry maid who reads them...placing her hand before her lips to suppress her laughter'.

Physical description

This small panel with its jewel like colour, is very thinly painted allowing us to perceive the powerful quality of life drawing in the figures of the shy young poet and the girl who reads his sonnet. The clothes, the trunks of the trees and the rocky foreground have a luminosity achieved by the thinly applied opaque colour over the light initial priming.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, painted)


1839 (exhibited)


Mulready, William RA, born 1786 - died 1863 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

oil on panel


Height: 35.3 cm estimate, Width: 30.2 cm estimate

Object history note

Given by John Sheepshanks, 1857

Descriptive line

Oil painting entitled 'The Sonnet' by William Mulready. Great Britain, 1839.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, Ronald Parkinson, Victoria and Albert Museum, London: HMSO, 1990, p. 206
100 Great Paintings in The Victoria & Albert Museum. London: V&A, 1985, p.132
Evans, Mark et al. Vikutoria & Arubāto Bijutsukan-zō : eikoku romanshugi kaigaten = The Romantic tradition in British painting, 1800-1950 : masterpieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Japan : Brain Trust, 2002

Production Note

Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1839


Oil paint; Panel


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Figures; Girls; Reading; Poets




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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