Towards the latter part of his life Sandys devoted himself to crayon studies, which exhibit his remarkable technical dexterity and his decorative feeling for minute details. As a draughtsman, his line in the modelling of the beauty of a head was full of exquisite sensitiveness and nervous musical quality. He had a marvellous sense of form, but he was curiously lacking in the power of felicitous indication and in imaginative understanding. His crayon studies, exquisitely beautiful though they were, did not enhance his reputation, and it is for his handling of the primitive Flemish technique of oil painting, and for the certainty of his work in his half-dozen great pictures that he will be praised. Of his personal life it is hardly safe to say anything, so completely did he ruin his chances of a great reputation by his blameworthy and pitiable career.
As recently as March 1894 there was an exhibition of his works at the Leicester Gallery, London, arranged by his stalwart supporter Mr. Ernest Brown, and the catalogue had a judicious preface by Mr. F. G. Stephens, who is now almost the last of the little band who worked with such earnestness and devotion under the influence of the pre-Raphaelite Movement. One of the finest of his works then exhibited was a full-length study of a girl called “My Lady Greensleeves,” now in the possession of Mr. J. S. Budgett of Stoke Park, Guildford.
Sandys has frequently been the subject of magazine and other articles, but the only thoroughly reliable notice of his life and works appeared as the winter number of The Artist, Nov. 18, 1896. It was written by Esther Wood, and was issued with extra illustrations in specially choice form, quarto, 150 copies only, and folio, twenty copies only. From this memoir and from personal acquaintance most of the above information is taken. There were articles upon him in the Art Journal, 1884, by Mr. J. M. Grav, and others by the same author in the Hobby Horse of 1888 and 1892, while Mr. Pennell wrote respecting Sandys in Pan, a German publication, in 1895, and later on in the Savoy, 1896, and the Quarto, 1896. His engraved works are alluded to by Gleeson White in his English Illustration, and they are illustrated in the Art Journal, 1894, Cornhill Gallery, 1865, Savoy, 1896, Quarto, 1896, Hobby Horse, 1888, Pan, 1895, Thorobury’s Historical Ballads, 1876, Pennell’s Modern Illustration, Pictures of Society, 1866, Idyllic Pictures, 1867, and Pennell’s Pen Drawing and Pen Draughtsmen, 1894. Some of his works were exhibited at Mr. Ganihart’s Gallery, and nine were hung at the Grosvenor Gallery.
- This article reproduces the entry for Frederick Sandys as published in Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, vol. 5, published in London by G. Bells and Sons, Ltd., 1925.
- Image source: Reproductions of Woodcuts by F. Sandys, 1860-1866. London: Carl Hentschel, n.d.