Thursday, August 26, 2010

William Powell Frith - Hope; and Fear

Price Realized £33,460

the latter signed and dated 'W P Frith 1869.' (lower right) and both inscribed 'The copyright of this picture is reserved & registered/W.P. Frith 1869' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
each 15½ x 14 in. (39.3 x 35.5 cm.)
a pair (2)

These two Hogarthian pendants are smaller versions of the pair exhibited by Frith at the R.A. of 1869, no. 82, of which the Art Journal commented: 'Mr. Frith depicts in two compartments within one frame, according to his accustomed point, a domestic crisis under the suggestive title 'Hope and Fear'. In the first scene a young gentleman sustains, as best he can, an interview with the father of a girl to whose affections he aspires. His position, we fear, is not secure; he may have to wait awhile. In a second frame we behold a contemporaneous incident: the young lady herself, deeply moved, seeking consolation of her mother. On both sides it is a moment of painful suspense. As regards the Art brought to bear upon the incident little remains to be said: we are always sure of cleverness when we encounter Mr Frith'.

The pictures were much enjoyed by other critics who delighted in Frith's keen-eyed characterisation. The Illustrated London News was more hopeful of the father, who they thought a 'beneficed clergyman'. In the 'plump and sympathetic' maternal face, they detected 'the look of irrepressible pride ... mingling with something of confidence' about the romantic outcome.

The subject of matrimonial happiness pre-occupied Frith. In addition to being married he supported a mistress and between the two households he fathered nineteen children.

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