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Sold at Auction: William Powell Frith

(1819-1909)

Biography

William Powell Frith RA (9 January 1819 – 2 November 1909) was an English painter specialising in genre subjects and panoramic narrative works of life in the Victorian era. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1853, presenting The Sleeping Model as his Diploma work. He has been described as the "greatest British painter of the social scene since Hogarth".

William Powell Frith was born in Aldfield, near Ripon in North Yorkshire on 9 January 1819. Frith was encouraged to take up art by his father, a hotelier in Harrogate. Frith was great uncle and an advisor to the English school portrait painter Henry Keyworth Raine (1872–1932).

He moved to London in 1835 where he began his formal art studies at Sass's Academy in Charlotte Street, before attending the Royal Academy Schools. Frith started 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, whose portrait he painted, and Laurence Sterne.
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