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Wolcot
Wolcot
Dr John Wolcot ('Peter Pindar'), bap. 1738, d. 1819
Collector
During his apprenticeship as surgeon-apothecary to his uncle, probably in 1761, Wolcot was sent to France, to learn the language. He then moved to London to complete his medical training. In 1767 he was awarded the degree of doctor of medicine from the University of Aberdeen. However, his literary career started to emerge with the publication in 1778 of Epistle to the Reviewers, which attracted notice in London. Wolcot took John Opie under his wing, giving him a room in his house in Truro and generally trained and encouraged the young artist.

In 1781 Wolcot and Opie decided to go to London to establish themselves. Opie's success was immediate but Wolcot's was not forthcoming until the following year with the publication if his Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians, for the Year 1782 under the pseudonym Peter Pindar. Thereafter 'Peter Pindar' achieved financial security for the rest of his life. The popularity of the Lyric Odes led him to publish further Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians in 1783 and 1785, and Farewell Odes in 1786. His verses, though couched in a coarse and rowdy style, reveal the measure of Wolcot's judgement in art, for example his high praise for Wilson as well as Reynolds and his heretical preference for British over foreign artists.

Wolcot/Pindar was very popular for two decades and his poetry reveals great sensitivity to the social evils and injustices of his day such as slavery, poverty, game laws and war profiteering.
P109 Kew Gardens: The Pagoda and Palladian Bridge, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, New Haven
University of Aberdeen