The artist William Powell Frith was the greatest chronicler of the Victorian age, famous for his ‘modern life’ panoramas.

The artist lived in Harrogate and the gallery holds a collection 25 works by Frith, including two other ArtFunded works - Many Happy Returns of the Day and Portrait of Annie Gambart. This large oil sketch adds an important dimension to the Mercer’s collection, because not only does it relate to one of his masterworks, it also defines Frith’s position as an art establishment figure and critic of Aestheticism. Furthermore, the work tells us about the artist’s working methods. Frith does not attempt to give the work a finished look; instead he leaves his sketch as a fascinating record of his creative process.

Provenance

Lady Swinfew; Christie's, 1924; Sampson; Sir Paul Getty; by descent; Christie's, 2005 (unsold); Christie's, 2008.


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