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William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age

William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age

24th March - 15th July 2007  Photograph of William Powell Frith (1819 - 1909)

It is over 50 years since there was an exhibition devoted to the work of William Powell Frith.

In 2006 and 2007, the Guildhall Art Gallery, London, and the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, were the venues for a major Frith show.

Who was William Powell Frith?
What was his connection with Harrogate?
How has he influence our ideas of life in Victorian times?

William Powell Frith painted scenes of everyday life which showed both the rich and the poor. He became the most successful, most popular and most highly paid of Victorian artists. In the exhibition you will view a full range of his work including over 90 paintings, prints and drawings. Learn about the Victorians through his eyes and celebrate the work of this gifted local artist.

Use the links below to find out further information about Frith.

Read a blogger's review of the exhibition

About the Artist The Major Paintings
Thumbnail image of William Powell Frith 'Brithday Party', William Powell Frith, Harrogate Museums
For Teachers For Pupils
Thumbnail image For Teachers Noahs Ark thumbnail



History of Frith

William Powell Frith (1819-1909) was the greatest British painter of the social scene since Hogarth.

His best-known pictures, Ramsgate Sands, Derby Day and The Railway Station, are icons of their age.

Portrait of Annie Gambart, by William Powell Frith

Frith is celebrated for his great panoramas of the Victorian world, populated by numerous figures, based on his friends, family, professional models and characters that he met in the street.

Frith enjoyed huge success and popularity in his lifetime; on six separate occasions rails had to be put up around his pictures in the Royal Academy to hold back the admiring crowds. Engraving of the Railway Station by William Powell Frith

Frith was a hard-working and prolific painter who knew how to exploit his success through engravings of his work, by polishing his public image and, later, by writing his memoirs. Interestingly, he had a far from spotless personal life, keeping one official family with his wife, Isabella, and a clandestine brood with his mistress, Mary.

Many Happy Returns of the Day, by William Powell Frith

Frith was born near Harrogate and spent his early years in the town, whose art gallery now owns a number of his works, including his famous Many Happy Returns of the Day.

London was Frith's home for the whole of his career and the setting for many of his most famous pictures.

The Artist's Son, Walter by William Powell Frith

The Frith exhibition contained over 90 paintings, prints and drawings, many from private collections, and of course all of Frith's major works, with loans from national and regional galleries around the country.


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