This major exhibition presents the works of William Powell Frith (1819-1909), whose great panoramas of Victorian life made him the most popular painter of his time.

Marking the bicentenary of Frith's birth at Aldfield near Harrogate, this exhibition will draw together some 70 paintings and prints from major national collections. There will also be several previously unseen works loaned from private collections and descendants of the artist.

Moving to London in 1835 to become a student at the Royal Academy, Frith quickly become one of the great masters of the Victorian era, painting multi-layered modern scenes that highlighted the social tensions and complexities of the times. Indeed his immense popularity reputedly necessitated additional security at the Royal Academy – which exhibited over 140 of his paintings during his lifetime.

Frith was a skilled narrator and innovator, filling his pictures with a multitude of contemporary characters representing the various levels of Victorian society. Highlights of the exhibition will include his depiction of the overcrowded beach at Ramsgate, in Life at the Seaside (on loan from the Royal Collection Trust), the bustle of Paddington Station in The Railway Station (on loan from the Royal Holloway College, London) and Derby Day, arguably one of his greatest masterpieces, which will be on loan from Tate Britain.

Painting19th century artYorkshire


Mercer Art Gallery

Swan Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2SA

01423 556 188

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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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