Frank Holl: Emerging from the Shadows

Mercer Art Gallery

23 November 2013 – 30 March 2014

The first major retrospective of the extraordinary Victorian painter Frank Holl, whose premature death at the age of 43 meant he never fully received the recognition he deserved.

A leading figure in social realist and portrait painting, Frank Holl was something of a prodigy, winning a travelling scholarship from the Royal Academy in his mid-20s. On his travels he became fascinated by the leading lights of northern painting, in particular Rembrandt and Rubens.

He became known for his powerfully emotive paintings depicting departure and loss, and capturing the desperation of the working poor. As well as becoming a much desired society portrait painter. Yet his prolific output had a detrimental effect on his health, and he died in 1888, after an exhausting period of work. This exhibition brings together thirty of his paintings to reveal a British painter with a compassionate understanding of the human condition.

Don't miss

In 1878 Holl was elected to the Royal Academy for the painting ‘Newgate; committed for trial’. It is one of his most celebrated works, depicting a man behind bars, unable to comfort his destitute family.

Also on show are a number of society portraits, including a painting of Samuel Cousins and a contemplative portrait of the eminent Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone.

Venue information

Opening times

Apr – Oct

Tue – Sat and bank holiday Mon, 10am – 5pm (Sun from 2pm)

Nov – Mar

Tue – Sat and bank holiday Mon, 10am – 4pm (Sun from 2pm)

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