Frost, William Edward (DNB00)

FROST, WILLIAM EDWARD (1810–1877), painter, was born at Wandsworth in September 1810. His artistic gifts were apparent from his earliest years. When about fifteen he was introduced to Etty, by whose advice he entered Sass's drawing school, and also studied at the British Museum. In 1829 he became a student of the Royal Academy, where he gained the first medals in each of the schools, except the antique, in which he was defeated by Maclise. During the next fourteen years he painted upwards of three hundred portraits. He began to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1836, and in 1839 he was awarded the gold medal for his ‘Prometheus bound by Force and Strength,’ which was in the exhibition of the following year. In 1843 he sent to the competition in Westminster Hall a cartoon representing ‘Una alarmed by the Fauns and Satyrs,’ which obtained one of the third-class premiums of 100l., and in the same year he exhibited at the Royal Academy ‘Christ crowned with Thorns,’ which was selected by an Art-Union prize-holder. These successes led him to relinquish portraiture, and to devote himself to subjects of a sylvan and bacchanalian character, drawn chiefly from the works of Spenser and Milton. His ‘Sabrina’ was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1845, and engraved by Peter Lightfoot for the Art Union of London, and this was followed by ‘Diana surprised by Actæon,’ which secured his election as an associate in 1846, and was purchased by Lord Northwick. ‘Una,’ a subject from Spenser's ‘Faerie Queene,’ appeared in the exhibition of 1847, and was purchased by the Queen. In 1848 he sent to the Academy ‘Euphrosyne,’ one of his best works, painted for Mr. Bicknell, and now in the possession of Mr. J. L. Newall, by whom it was exhibited at Manchester in 1887. The group of ‘L'Allegro’ was afterwards painted from this picture as a gift from the Queen to the Prince Consort. In 1849 he exhibited at the Royal Academy ‘The Syrens,’ a picture remarkable for its beauty of colour, and in 1850 ‘The Disarming of Cupid,’ painted for the Prince Consort, and ‘Andromeda.’ ‘L'Allegro’ and ‘The Disarming of Cupid’ were engraved respectively by T. Garner and P. Lightfoot for Hall's ‘Royal Gallery of Art,’ and are now at Osborne. In 1851 he exhibited ‘Wood Nymphs’ and ‘Hylas;’ in 1852 ‘May Morning,’ and in 1854 ‘Chastity,’ from Milton's ‘Comus,’ one of his most poetical conceptions, which was engraved by T. Garner for the ‘Art Journal’ of 1864. ‘The Graces’ and ‘Bacchanalians’ were exhibited in 1856, ‘Narcissus’ In 1857, and again at the International Exhibition of 1862, ‘Zephyr with Aurora playing’ in 1858, ‘The Daughters of Hesperus’ in 1860, ‘Venus lamenting the absence of Adonis’ and ‘A Dance’ in 1861, ‘The Graces and Loves’ in 1863, ‘The Death of Adonis’ in 1865, ‘Come unto these yellow Sands,’ from ‘The Tempest,’ in 1866, ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ in 1867, ‘By the Waters of Babylon’ and ‘Puck’ in 1869, and ‘Musidora’ in 1871. Besides the works above mentioned he contributed many others—in all 110—to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy and the British Institution. It was not until 1870 that he became a Royal Academician, when he presented as his diploma work a ‘Nymph and Cupid.’ He retired in 1876, becoming an honorary R.A.

Frost died unmarried in Fitzroy Square, London, on 4 June 1877. He formed a large collection of engravings after the works of Thomas Stothard, R.A., and prepared, in conjunction with Mr. Henry Reeve, ‘A complete Catalogue of the Paintings, Water-colour Drawings, Drawings, and Prints in the Collection of the late H. A. J. Munro, Esq., of Novar,’ which was privately printed in 1865.

[Art Journal, 1849, p. 184, with portrait, from a sketch in oil by himself; Art Journal 1857, pp. 5–7 (with woodcuts), 1877, pp. 234, 280; Illustrated London News, 21 Jan. 1871, with portrait; Athenæum, 1877, i. 744; Academy, 1877, i. 543; Times, 8 June 1877; Sandby's Hist. of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1862, ii. 219–221; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1836–78; British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Modern Artists), 1842–67.]

R. E. G.