William Powell Frith is one of the most celebrated artists of the Victorian age and certainly the most famous artist born in the Harrogate area.

He trained at the Royal Academy Schools in London and is best known for his paintings of modern life, including The Derby Day and The Railway Station. Frith painted the first version of Sherry, Sir? in 1851. He recorded in his autobiography that the model was his housemaid, possibly Matilda Pudfield who worked for him at the time. The painting was bought, published as a popular engraving, and later used as a trademark by the sherry company Williams and Humbert. The same model appears in the partner painting Did You Ring, Sir?. The Mercer Gallery holds a significant group of Frith’s pictures and these two paintings join them there as fine examples of this local artist’s depictions of modern life.

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