One of the greatest masterpieces of the Victorian era with a whopping price tag of £10 million is coming to Harrogate’s Mercer Gallery.
A Private View at the Royal Academy (1881) will be the star attraction of a new exhibition to celebrate the bicentenary of 19th century master William Powell Frith (1819-1909).
On loan for the new blockbuster show, Harrogate’s most famous artist gathered the most renowned figures of the day for his stunning panorama which serves as a ‘who’s who’ of Victorian Britain.
The line-up includes William Gladstone, writers Oscar Wilde and Anthony Trollope, actress Lily Langtry, artists such as John Everett Millais and more.
Despite its renown and value, it will not be the only gem in the new exhibition
The Mercer Art Gallery William Powell Frith Bicentenary Exhibition will bring together more 70 paintings and prints from major national collections, including Tate Britain, the Royal Academy, the Royal Collection, the V&A and the Mercer Art Gallery’s own extensive archive.
The show will also present previously unseen works of art loaned from private collections and descendants of the artist.
Curated by the Mercer Art Gallery’s previous chief, Jane Sellars MBE, it’s her last act for the publically-owned gallery.
Jane Sellars said: “The Mercer owned preliminary painting not only demonstrates the crucial role of the oil sketch to Frith but also shines a light on the subtle nuances of status in Victorian society, as for example, the recently deceased novelist Anthony Trollope is promoted to the front in the original, where Gladstone had originally stood.”
Raised by domestic servants, who persuaded him to be a painter, William Powell Frith has close associations with Harrogate before moving to London to further his art studies at the highest level, though he was actually born in Aldfield, near Ripon in North Yorkshire on January 9, 1819.
Specialising in panoramic narrative works of life, Frith began his career as a portrait painter and often based his works on the literary output of writers such as Charles Dickens, whose portrait he painted, and Laurence Sterne.
In 1845 he was appointed associate of the Royal Academy in London. He was friendly with fellow painter William Turner and author Charles Dickens.
And later in 1853 he was appointed a full member of the Royal Academy. His satirical paintings often depicted both the rich and the poor.
The exhibition at Mercer Art Gallery, Swan Road, Harrogate will run from June 15 to September 29.
The exhibition will run from June 15 to September 29.