Ramsgate Sands by William Powell Frith
Original steel engraving published 1854. Presented in a gilt frame with lower margin title, trimmed to the image area
The original oil painting, Ramsgate Sands also known as Life at the Seaside became Frith’s first great commercial success, after initially receiving a mixed critical reception. It was dismissed by one contemporary commentator as “vulgar Cockney business” or a “tissue of vulgarity” and it was rejected by several potential buyers. However, it proved popular with the viewing public at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1854, and was praised by critics for its realistic depiction of modern life. It was voted the “picture of the year” by the journal Royal Academy Pictures and was purchased by the printers Lloyd Brothers for 1,000 guineas who retained the right to reproduce the painting as an engraving for sale to the public as prints, making Frith very rich. Eventually the original painting was bought by Queen Victoria to display at Osbourne House.