William Powell Frith
William Powell Frith (January 19, 1819 - November 9, 1909), was an English painter specialising in portraits and Victorian era narratives, who was elected to the Royal Academy in 1852.
Life and career
Born in Aldfield, North Yorkshire, William was encouraged to take up art by his parents who were hoteliers in Harrogate. he began his career as a portrait painter and first exhibited at the British Institution in 1838. In the 1840s he often based works on the literary output of writers such as Charles Dickens and Sir David Wilkie.
He was also a member of The Clique, which also included Richard Dadd. His most famous painting is Derby Day a genre scene of the race at Epsom Downs. This 1858 composition was bought by Jacob Bell for £1,500. Another well-known painting was Railway Station a scene of Paddington station. In 1865 he was chosen to paint the Marriage of the Prince of Wales.
Later in his career he painted two series of five paintings, Road to Ruin (1878) and Race for Wealth (1880). He retired from the Royal Academy in 1890 but continued to exhibit until 1902.
Frith was a traditionalist who made known his aversion to modern-art developments in a couple of autobiographies - Autobiography and Reminiscences (1887) and Further Reminiscences (1888) - and other writings.
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