Study for the Last Request

WAG 1995.47


This drawing is a study for the painting 'The Last Request' in the Walker Art Gallery (WAG 2839). The subject of this painting is taken from a poem of 1768: 'Monody to the Memory of a Young Lady Who Died in Childbed by an Afflicted Husband', by Cuthbert Shaw (1739-1771). In the poem, the dying wife Emma requests her husband, when he re-marries, to keep their child separate from its stepmother, so that it will not transfer its affection to her or know her dislike, and will enjoy its father's love in isolation. Westall was apprenticed to engraver John Thomson in 1779. He later took up painting and exhibited his first portrait drawing at the Royal Academy in 1784. In 1785 he became a student at the Royal Academy Schools, an associate in 1792, and Royal Academician in 1794. He exhibited over 300 works at the Royal Academy and 70 at the British Institution. Westall also specialised in book illustration and was employed by publishers John Boydell, Thomas Macklin and Robert Bowyer. As a watercolourist, Westall was particularly noted for his unusually rich colour effects.