£12m Harrogate painting reconstructed for 21st century

Amazing - Reconstruction - Some of the local celebrities at Sundays photo-shoot at Harrogates Mercer Art Gallery.
Amazing - Reconstruction - Some of the local celebrities at Sundays photo-shoot at Harrogates Mercer Art Gallery.

A 19th century masterpiece worth a staggering £12 million has been meticulously reconstructed in a glamorous photo-shoot in Harrogate in the run-up to a new blockbuster exhibition.

More than 60 people answered the call by acclaimed northern photographer Jonathan Turner to star in the photoshoot at the Mercer Art Gallery last Sunday.

Part of 12m painting coming to Harrogate - William Powell Frith The Private View (at the Royal Academy), 1891

Part of 12m painting coming to Harrogate - William Powell Frith The Private View (at the Royal Academy), 1891

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The aim of the event was to re-create one of William Powell Frith’s ‘big four’ panoramas, The Private View (at the Royal Academy), a painting which Frith painted in 1881 and which hit the headlines recently due to being sold for the first time since 1883 for a £12 million.

The Harrogate-born Frith is to be the subject of a new retrospective at the publically-owned Harrogate gallery shortly.

Drawing together nearly 70 artworks from some of the most prestigious galleries and collections in the country, the exhibition will run from June 15 to September 29.

Jane Sellars MBE, curator of arts projects at the Mercer Art Gallery and co-author with art historian, Richard Green of William Powell Frith: The People’s Painter, said: “This bicentenary celebration of the work of William Powell Frith is very significant, as it draws together an outstanding collection of his work and life.”

The new show will feature almost the entire collection of Frith’s work, including several previously unseen pieces and paintings from major national collections, including the Tate, the V&A and The Queen.

Sunday’s photo-shoot recreated the gathering of the great and the good of Victorian society such as Oscar Wilde, Prime Minister Gladstone and the actress and socialist, Lillie Langtry with a collection of current Harrogate figures.

Talking after the successful shoot, Jonathan Turner said: “The new version included MP Andrew Jones, the Mayor and Mayoress, Coun Bernard Bateman and wife Linda, Coun Richard Cooper, Graham Chalmers of the Advertiser and Duncan Grant and Christine Talbot from ITV.

“We also welcomed actress Natalie Robb from Emmerdale, and Guy Donegan-Cross, the Vicar of St Marks, along with many of the Friends of the Mercer Art Gallery who work so hard to support and fundraise for the gallery.

“Many people said that there was a unique and special atmosphere in the gallery seeing it used in this unusual way.”

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