William Powell Frith, RA (British, 1819-1909) The flower seller

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Lot 46
William Powell Frith, RA
(British, 1819-1909)
The flower seller

Sold for £ 22,562 (US$ 29,063) inc. premium
William Powell Frith, RA (British, 1819-1909)
The flower seller
signed and dated 'W P Frith 1865.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
76.5 x 63.5cm (30 1/8 x 25in).

Footnotes

  • Exhibited
    London, Guildhall Art Gallery & Harrogate, Mercer Art Gallery, William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age, November 2006-July 2007.
    London, Guildhall Art Gallery, 1978-80, 1981, 1991-93, 1998-2003, 2008-2010.

    Literature
    Aubrey Noakes, William Frith: Extraordinary Victorian Painter, London, 1978, (illustrated in black and white p. 97).

    In 1865, the year in which the present lot was painted, Frith was hard at work finishing his monumental canvas The Marriage of the Prince of Wales (Royal Collection), a commission from Queen Victoria which had begun in 1863. Frith attended the ceremony, but also worked from photographs and later sittings to render the prestigious attendees as accurately as possible. When presented at the Royal Academy, the painting was so popular among visitors that it was virtually impossible for any viewer to get a close look. As with Derby Day of 1858, Frith's extensive and highly detailed composition had drawn a huge crowd of admirers, to such an extent that, once again, an iron railing had to be placed around the work to keep the public at bay.

    Following the completion of such an exhausting undertaking, Frith returned to less challenging, more intimate compositions, such as A Dream of the Future (Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate), and the present lot. The narrative in the painting has echoes of Frith's masterpiece Derby Day and he has positioned his flower seller at a county fair or fete. Beyond her, an elegant couple stand between the tents, the male figure having a buttonhole pinned into his lapel.

    The model used in the present lot bears a resemblance to the sitter in Frith's 1868 RA exhibit Sterne's Maria, from 'A Sentimental Journey' a model described by Frith as 'a pretty, gentle creature, who had a history. She sat to me many times for many pictures.'1

    1 W. P. Frith, My Autobiography and Reminiscences, New York, 1888, p. 272.
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