William Powell Frith: The People's Painter
15 June until 29 September 2019

This exhibition marks the bicentenary of the birth of William Powell Frith (1819 - 1909), whose great panoramas of Victorian life made him the most popular painter of his time. Born in Aldfield and raised in High Harrogate, he is the district's best-known and outstandingly successful artist.

Frith was an innovator who filled his ambitious pictures with a multitude of contemporary characters representing various levels of society, from the overcrowded beach at Ramsgate to the bustle of Paddington Station.

This exhibition investigates how Frith put together his paintings - including preparatory drawings and oil sketches, the way he employed models and the nature of his studio.

The exhibition will also explore Frith's popular success and demonstrate the importance of the mass production of large-scale engravings after his paintings. Such prints not only made the artist world-famous but also, as a retail coup, brought great wealth to his publishers. Frith's major paintings were so popular that the Royal Academy, exceptionally, had to protect them with a rail on six occasions, in one instance also employing a policeman to ward off the crowds. These works were toured around this country and overseas, drawing massive crowds who paid a shilling a time to see them, again making money for the entrepreneurs.

Paintings will be loaned to the exhibition from major British public collections. There are also many loans from private collections of works hitherto unseen in public. All of the Frith paintings and engravings acquired by the Mercer over the last 15 years will be on display.

There will be a catalogue for the exhibition with essays by specialist scholars, including the independent art historian Richard Green, who is co-curator of the exhibition with Jane Sellars.

For more information please visit our William Powell Frith, The People's Painter page.


Autumn Open Exhibition
12 October until 11 January 2020

This prominent and popular northern art exhibition returns for 2019. Embracing of those with a connection to Harrogate, the Mercer Art Gallery Autumn Open Exhibition provides a high profile, visual platform for contemporary regional artists to present their work to the public. From hundreds of entries, around 120 exhibits will be displayed, with the overall winner announced at a special Preview Evening on Friday 11 October. It's time to get your paint brushes out!

For more information please visit www.harrogate.gov.uk/open2019.


Turner: Northern Exposure
18 January until 18 April 2020

Follow in Turner's footsteps with a new exhibition that retraces Turner's 1797 tour across the North of England, exploring how the regions landscape transformed him from an architectural draughtsman to a poet of the landscape sublime. In partnership with The Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle.


Their Safe Haven, Hungarian Artists in Britain from the 1930s
25 April until 26 September 2020

The 1920 Treaty of Trianon, signed at Versailles, split Hungary apart, pushing artists westwards. This exhibition follows those who made their lives across the Channel, celebrating a particular contribution to British culture. Joseph Bato, George Buday, Imre Goth, George Mayer-Marton, Jean-Georges Simon and Istvan Szegedi-Szuts brought individual talent to areas like the film industry, modern mosaics and book illustration. Rarely-seen paintings from public collections will complement archival research in this new exhibition.

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Page last updated 03/06/2019