William Powell Frith


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Painting in the Victorian Age

Mark Bills and Vivien Knight

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William Powell Frith (1819-1909) was the greatest British painter of the social scene since Hogarth. His panoramas of nineteenth-century life broke new ground in their depiction of the diverse London crowd, and they are now icons of their age. Frith’s popularity in his lifetime was unprecedented; on six separate occasions special railings had to be built at the Royal Academy to protect his paintings from an admiring public.
Derby Day and The Railway Station are nearly as well known today as a century ago, yet the artist who painted them is now neglected. This book explores Frith's place in the development of Victorian painting: the impact of his unconventional private life on his work, his relationships with Hogarth and Dickens, his influence on popular illustration, the place of costume in his paintings, his female models, his painting materials and practice, and much more. The book makes an important contribution to the literature on art in the Victorian era and to our understanding of the nineteenth century.

Exhibition Schedule:

Guildhall, London (November 2006 – March 2007)

Harrogate (opens April 2007)

Mark Bills is curator of the Watts Gallery, Compton, England. He was formerly curator of paintings, prints and drawings at the Museum of London. Vivien Knight is curator of Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London, which holds a fine collection of Victorian paintings.


Guildhall, London (November 2006 – March 2007)

Harrogate (opens April 2007)

"A master chronicler of his times, William Powell Frith was one of the most successful painters of his time. . . . In addition to excellent reproductions of his works, Painting in the Victorian Age offers up a comprehensive picture of the artist, his times, and his work."—Art Times

"...the appearance of this book from Yale University Press (jointly edited by Mark Bills and Vivien Knight) is a greater event than the exhibition (co-curated by Vivien Knight, Mark Bills and Jane Sellars) itself." --- Simon Poe, The British Art Journal

"Carefully researched and amply illustrated, this is an exceptional work that treats Frith's life and times succinctly while offering a fresh perspective for the seasoned scholar. Essential."—Choice

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2007
ISBN: 9780300121902
Publication Date: March 1, 2007
208 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
90 b/w + 100 color illus.

Dickens and the Artists

Edited by Mark Bills; With contributions by Pat Hardy, Leon

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