WILLIAM POWELL FRITH R.A.
1819 – 1909
The Railway Station
Signed by artist and engraver
Frame size: 29½ x 52¼ inches / 75 x 132.7 cm
Stock number: PB22/0121
A large engraving, The Railway Station, signed by the artist, William Powell Frith and the engraver Francis Holl, London published 1 October 1866. by Henry Graves and Co, Publishers to the Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales, 6 Pall Mall.
It is rare for these engravings to come onto the market and very rare for all three to appear at the same time. Both Derby Day and The Railway Station are the same size and framed identically, whilst Ramsgate Sands is slightly larger and framed differently. This is a unique opportunity for someone to acquire all three together.
This magnificently evocative scene depicts the departure for Scotland of a north bound train from Paddington Station. Along with Frith’s other masterpieces Derby Day and Life at the Seaside it gives us a wonderful insight into Victorian life. It conveys all the energy and excitement of The Great Western Railway when train travel was opening up the country like never before. Frith has depicted himself, and his family, in the picture; they are to be seen in the foreground, slightly to the left, as they bid farewell to their son who clutches his cricket bat and prepares to return to school for the summer term. To their left a bride and groom prepare to head for Scotland on their honeymoon but not before the bridesmaids have wished them well. A not so salubrious scene is unravelling to the far right where a well-known criminal is apprehended by Haydon and Brett, two famous Scotland Yard detectives, and putting the kibosh on his plans to flee to Scotland and evade justice.
The original oil painting was so popular in its time that once it had been exhibited in London to great acclaim it went on international loan to cities as far flung as Paris and Philadelphia. There followed a demand for printed copies so Frith engaged the talents of Francis Hall to complete the etched plate. The print went on to bring further popularity to this iconic image.
William Powell Frith (9 January 1819 – 2 November 1909) was an English painter specialising in genre subjects and panoramic narrative works of life in the Victorian era. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1853, presenting The Sleeping Model as his Diploma work. He has been described as the “greatest British painter of the social scene since Hogarth”.