William Powell Frith, R.A.


A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881


Oil on Canvas

40 ½ x 77 in.

(102.9 x 195.6 cm.)


Engraved, 1883 (all copies and copper plate remained with the Pope Family).

Photogravure, Henry Graves, 1885.


There is a full catalogue available for download here written by Mark Bills and Rosie Jarvie. For the first time, it tells the story of the painting’s evolution, including details of sittings with  the influential figures selected by Frith for the painting and their careful placement, along with media coverage generated in anticipation of the picture’s unveiling.  Their research also uncovered subsequent correspondence between Alfred Pope and the artist in 1895, in which the painting’s owner suggested that, in light of the scandal around Wilde’s high profile trial, Frith might paint out Oscar Wilde. Clearly, Wilde’s likeness was nonetheless retained and the painting became an important image in the iconography of Oscar Wilde.

The Private View in the Press: