1819-1909 English painter. His parents were in domestic employment before taking a hotel in Harrogate in 1826. They encouraged him to become an artist, despite his own desire to be an auctioneer. While at school in Dover, Frith sketched caricatures and copies of Dutch genre scenes (Dover Mus.) that betray his disposition to narratives. His taste did not accord with the academic training he received at Henry Sass Academy in London (1835-7) and at the Royal Academy Schools (1837). Frith began his career as a portrait painter, using members of his family as models. He first exhibited at the British Institution in 1838, and during the 1840s he established himself with his entertaining historical and literary subjects in the popular tradition of C. R. Leslie, William Mulready and Sir David Wilkie. He was a member of THE CLIQUE, which included Richard Dadd, Augustus Egg, Henry O Neil and John Phillip. His friendship with Charles Dickens began with commissions for paintings of Dolly Varden (London, V&A) and Kate Nickleby (untraced) in 1842.
Private View of the Royal Academy 1881
Oil on canvas 102.9 x 195.6 cm
(401/2 x 77in)
Private collection (mk63)