Thursday, March 11, 2010
William Powell Frith - The Flower Girl of Boulogne
signed and dated l.l.: W. P. Frith 1871
oil on canvas
30 by 25 in.
Frith spent part of the summer of 1871 at Boulogne on the Channel coast. This holiday seems to have provided the artist with subject-matter for the next couple of years. The following season he exhibited a work entitled At my window, Boulogne at the Royal Academy. The present painting, which may also have derived from the 1871 trip or an unrecorded return visit, is probably identical with his 1873 exhibit, A Boulogne flower-girl, while the following year he made an elaborate figurative drawing entitled Blessing of the children of Boulogne (Worthing Art Gallery).
Frith's panoramic modern life subjects of the 1850s and 60s, of which Life at the Seaside (Ramsgate Sands) (Royal Collection), of 1854, Derby Day (Tate), of 1858, and The Railway Station (Royal Holloway College, Egham (University of London)) of 1862, are the best known, represent his most characteristic productions. All of these are multi-figured compositions. On other occasions, however, Frith painted single figures going about their daily routines, treated with great affection and sympathy. A Boulogne Flower-Girl of is an example of his interest in the type of picturesque figure subjects that he looked out for on his travels at home and abroad. The painting was shown at the Royal Academy with a pendant showing a London flower-girl (exhibition number 276). The two works were discussed in the Art Journal review of the Academy exhibition: 'Frith illustrates from time to time the lower walks of life by judicious selections from their ranks; here, for example, he paints "A Boulogne Flower-Girl" (271), and a "London Flower-Girl" (276), impersonations which, we submit, have more of nature in them than those he exhibits as exemplifying the supernumerary accomplishments of the day' (Art Journal, 1873, p.170).
at 5:00 PM