Pitlessie is a small village, with a population of about 300 people, in The Cults, Fife, Scotland. It is roughly 4.5 miles from the nearest large town, Cupar.
David Wilkie the son of the parish minister of Cults in Fife. He developed a love for art at an early age. In 1799, after he had attended school at Pitlessie, KingsKettle and Cupar, his father reluctantly agreed to his becoming a painter. Through the influence of the Earl of Leven Wilkie was admitted to the Trustees’ Academy in Edinburgh, and began the study of art under John Graham.
In 1804, Wilkie left the Trustees’ Academy and returned to Cults. He established himself in the manse there, and began his first important subject-picture, Pitlessie Fair (illustration), which includes about 140 figures, and in which he introduced portraits of his neighbours and of several members of his family circle. In addition to this elaborate figure-piece, Wilkie was much employed at the time upon portraits, both at home and in Kinghorn, St Andrews and Aberdeen.
Excellent information about Sir David Wilkie on Scotland’s People.
From a Descriptive and Historical Gazetteer from 1857.
Cults was the Parish, Pitlessie was a village in the parish.
Village of Pitlessie – It has 526 inhabitants; Cupar is the nearest market and Post Town, from which it is 4 miles distant; a runner brings letters and parcels every day; there is a large abbual cattle fair held;; there are seven public houses; it is 5 miles East of New Inn. On the North East extremity of the Parish, Lady Mary Lindsay Crawford, sister and heiress of George, 20th Earl of Crawford, erected a splendid mansion in 1813, called Crawford Castle and Priory. Lady Mary died in November 1833. She was the
last of a direct line which for nearly five centuries had flourished in Fifeshire, and whose deeds, for good or evil, have been enrolled on many pages of the chronicles of Scotland.* The most interesting object in the parish is the celebrated painter, the poetic, yet graphic, Sir David Wilkie, who was a native of Cults, of which his father was minister. He was born in the manse in November 1785, where he spent his early years. “Amid the gentle sloping hills and sweet valleys of Fife he studied nature, and imbibed that love of truth and simplicity which he afterwards so beautifully in some instances, and so grandly in others, developed.” % He received the honour of knighthood from King William IV in 1836. As an artist he was not merely the pride of the parish , but the boast of the county, and the admiration of the Kingdom.*Fullerton %Dawson