William Powell Frith (1819-1909) was British painter. The few pictures that made Frith's reputation are of contemporary subjects. These started, tentatively, with a picture of a servant girl (c. 1853), which was engraved with the saleable title of Sherry Sir?
Frith produced his first ambitious modern-life subject: Life at the Seaside (or Ramsgate Sands, exh. RA 1854; London, Buckingham Pal., Royal Col.).. Its purchase by Queen Victoria encouraged Frith to produce the equally popular Derby Day (exh. RA 1858; London, Tate) and the Railway Station (1862; Egham, U. London, Royal Holloway & Bedford New Coll.).
Frith's self-confessed interest in the city crowd, its physiognomy and expression inspired both subjects. His aptitude for the dramatic grouping of large numbers of people into coherent units, his eye for the anecdotal and his unabashed inclination to appeal to sentiment are all fully exploited and enhanced by his precise technique.
Although Frith's Salon d'Or, Homburg (Providence, RI Sch. Des., Mus. A.), a sensation-seeking view of the notorious gambling hall at Homburg, proved a success at the Royal Academy of 1871, the composition is comparatively stiff, and his touch and characterisation less precise. These faults are increasingly evident in later works.
Frith retired as an RA in 1890 but continued to exhibit until 1902. His greatest success in later life came from his books, Autobiography and Reminiscences (1887) and Further Reminiscences (1888), in which he showed himself as much a literary as an artistic raconteur, and in which he assessed his career with winning modesty and irony. | © Tate Britain, Mary Cowling, Copyright material reproduced courtesy of Oxford University Press, New York
Frith William Powell - Pittore Inglese, nato il 9 gennaio 1819 a Aldfield, presso Ripon, nel Yorkshire, morto il 2 novembre 1909 a Londra. Studiò all'Accademia di disegno di H. Sass a Londra e all'Accademia reale ed espose per la prima volta nel 1840. Si dedicò da principio al genere storico, e quando non senza esitazione, essendo già socio della Royal Academy, prese a ritrarre la vita contemporanea, ebbe un immediato successo col suo quadro Ramsgate Sands (1854). Il quadro Giornata di Derby (1858; Londra, National Gallery), suo capolavoro, e La Stazione (1862) esaltarono il pubblico e la critica. Inferiori a questi il Matrimonio del principe di Galles (ordinato dalla regina Vittoria) e The Private View of the Royal Academy (1883). Venuto in contrasto coi preraffaelliti e con il Whistler, il F. fu da loro severamente giudicato. Più tardi sono stati riconosciuti i suoi meriti, la sua forza di osservazione, la sua capacità compositiva. | di Arthur Popham ©Treccani, Enciclopedia Italiana