Frederick Sandys

Frederic Sandys self-portrait
Frederic [sic] Sandys etched by himself in 1848 when he was 19 years of age.

Sandys, Antony Frederick, A.N., generally called Frederick Sandys, sometimes F. K. Sandys from his habit of signing the name Frederick thus, “Fk. Sandys.” This clever artist was bom at Norwich in 1832(1), and educated at the Norwich Grammar School, applying himself at a very early age with earnestness to drawing and painting. He never attended the Royal Academy Schools as has been stated, and was not a pupil either of Richmond or Lawrence. Lawrence he never met but for a few minutes, and his acquaintance with Richmond was only as that of a family friend, and never the relationship of pupil and teacher. His early life is said to have been influenced by the work of Menzel, but this also is an error, as never but once did he see illustrations of the work of this artist, and he himself stated that they made no impression whatever upon him. His education in art was entirely the work of local Norfolk art teachers and his own strenuous industry when he came to London and worked on his own account, copying pictures in the National Gallery.

His earliest exhibit at the Royal Academy was in 1851, before he was twenty-one years old, when he sent in a crayon portrait of Lord Henry Loftus, following it in 1854 by a smaller one of the Rev. Thomas Freeman, of Norwich. In 1856 he sent in two crayon portraits, one an anonymous one, and the other representing the Rev. Thomas Randolph. His first exhibits in oil were two pictures sent in 1861, one called Oriana, and the other a portrait of Mrs. W. H. Clabburn, of Thorpe, Norwich. It was about this time that he commenced to do some illustrations for periodicals, and his first drawing was entitled Portent, done for the Cornhill Magazine in 1860. In 1861 he commenced to work for Once a Week, and during that and the following year produced eleven important illustrations as follows:
Yet once more on the Organ Play, The Three Statues of Ægina, From my Window, Rosamond, Queen of the Lombards, The Sailor’s Bride, The King at the Gate, Jacques de Caumont, The Old Chartist, Harald Harfagr, The Death of King Warwulf, and The Boy Martyr. In the same year he did Manoli for the Cornhill Magazine, and Until Her Death for Good Words. His exhibits in the Royal Academy in 1862 were various. There were two pictures in oil, Mrs. Clabburn, senior, and King Pelles’ Daughter bearing the Vessel of the Holy Grail, one in crayons of Mrs. Doulton, a pen-and-ink drawing of Autumn, and another of Mrs. Anderson Rose. In 1863 his drawing for Sleep appeared in Good Words, and The Waiting Time in the Churchman’s Magazine, while to the Academy he sent in three oil portraits, one representing Mrs. Anderson Rose, the same lady whom he had exhibited in pen-and-ink in the previous year, a picture of most marvelous execution, and two fancy portraits called Vivien and La Belle Ysonde.
The oil portrait that was perhaps his greatest achievement was seen at the Academy in 1864. It was called A Portrait, but represented Mrs. Jane Lewis, of Roehampton, and was a most wonderful example of elaborate miniature manipulation, almost perfect in its execution. With it he sent an oil picture called Morgan Le Fay, and a pen-and-ink drawing of Judith. Two oil pictures appeared in 1865, Cassandra, and Gentle Spring, and a grand illustration in the Shilling Magazine, called Amor Mundi. In 1866 his notable oil painting of “Lady Rose” was exhibited, and his work appeared in the Argosy, Quiver, Once a Week, and the Cornhill Magazine, the following being the titles of pictures respectively: If, The Advent of Winter, Cassandra and Helen, and Cleopatra.

1) Recent authors usually prefer to state 1829 as Sandys’s date of birth. He died in 1904.

Image source: Norfolk Museums.