William Powell Frith

Dolly Varden

c.1842–9

Not on display

Artist
William Powell Frith 1819–1909
Medium
Oil paint on wood
Dimensions
Support: 273 x 216 mm
frame: 470 x 411 x 75 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Mrs E.J. Thwaites 1955
Reference
T00041

Display caption

Dolly Varden is a character in Charles Dickens’ 1839 novel Barnaby Rudge, set in 1780s London. The character inspired a fashionable outfit known as the ‘Dolly Varden’, popular in Britain and the United States between 1865 and 1870. The figure in this work is shown wearing this type of costume. This painting is an example of what became known in the nineteenth-century as a ‘fancy portrait.’ Artists would paint portraits from imagination and name them after characters from popular literature.

Gallery label, February 2019

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