William Powell Frith: A Painter and His World by Christopher Wood - review by John McEwen

John McEwen

Vigour and Pith

William Powell Frith: A Painter and His World


Sutton Publishing 272pp £20

In his mid-Victorian heyday William Powell Frith (1819–1909), best remembered as the painter of Ramsgate Sands (1852–54), Derby Day (1856–58) and The Railway Station (1860–62), was the most highly priced artist in the world. Even as late as 1875 his period piece Before Dinner in Boswell’s Lodgings, first exhibited in 1868, fetched £4,500 at Christie’s, the record price for a work by a living artist – easily comparable with the million-plus equivalents currently paid for contemporary art.

Now, in apparent anticipation of his centenary, this biography by the Victorian art dealer and historian Christopher Wood coincides with the exhibition William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age at the Guildhall Art Gallery (until 4 March and then at the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate), the artist’s first exhibition since

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