Sunday Morning — Victoriana of the Week

Ramsgate_Sands c

“Ramsgate Sands”, by William Powell Frith

William Powell Frith, who artist who painted “Ramsgate Sands”, was noted for big, narrative works like this.  For Frith, it wasn’t enough that “every picture tells a story” — every picture tells a multitude of stories.  You’ll probably want to enbiggen the picture to appreciate the detail.

With the coming of the railways in the mid-1840s, Ramsgate, about 80 miles from London, became a popular spot for day trips.  Frith visited in 1851, and was inspired.

 “I was determined to try my hand on modern life, with all the drawback of unpicturesque dress. The variety of character on Ramsgate Sands attracted me – all sorts and conditions of men and women were to be found there. Pretty groups of ladies … reading, idling, working and unconsciously forming themselves into very paintable compositions.”
–William Powell Frith

Critical reaction to the painting was mixed, but it was popular w/the public.  One view was particularly impressed–Queen Victoria had visited Ramsgate as a child, and purchased “Ramsgate Sands” for £1,000.

The painting is still in the Royal Collection.

One obvious question.  It’s the seaside.  Why is everyone still fully dressed?

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