Gil Blas Dresses en Cavalier (Scene from Gil Blas), 1839
Oil on panel, 76.5 x 94 cm
Purchased, Dublin, Mr W. Cherrick, 1969
In the nineteenth century, artists throughout Europe looked increasingly to literary sources for narrative themes. Maclise has drawn this subject from a picaresque novel by Alain-René Lesage, translated as The Adventures of Gil Blas. Set in seventeenth century Spain, the book plots Blas's rise from humble origins to wealth and social position. Here, he appears in a fripier's workshop, trying on a second-hand velvet suit he considers appropriate to his ambition.