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William Powell Frith, RA (1819-1909)



Frith.jpg (71326 bytes)
                            The Railway Station by W.P. Frith R.A. 

William Powell Frith was born in Yorkshire in 1819 the son of domestic servants. Though he intended to pursue a career as an auctioneer, Frith's artistic talent was encouraged by his father and in 1835 Frith enrolled in the Henry Sass Academy in London. In 1837 he attended the Royal Academy Schools. In 1845 Frith was appointed RA of the Royal Academy and was elected full member in 1852. Frith was known for his every day life from modern subjects, particularly crowd scene. He painted these on large canvases with crowds of people and paid close attention details. His work was heavily criticized by the art establishment and considered "vulgar" with the artist accused of being more interested in subject than in painting, "devoted to telling stories on canvas....eminent among men who
paint for those who like pictures without liking art". With the encouragement of his friend and fellow artist Augustus Leopold Egg, Frith continued with his paintings. His work was an enormous success with the public.       
In 1854 Frith exhibited Life at the Seaside - Ramsgate Sands - which was originally purchased by the art firm Lloyds but the Queen wished it for herself. Lloyds sold her the painting for the price they had paid while retaining the rights to engravings. In 1858, Frith exhibited Derby Day which required a protective railing in front of it with a policeman standing guard to protect the painting. Later five of Frith's works would receive the same barriers which was considered an honour. William Powell Frith died in 1909.