The People’s Painter

The Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate is running an exhibition on the work by William Powell Frith. He’s well known as ‘The People’s Painter’. The exhibition runs until the 29th September.

William Powell Firth

I was struck by this painter’s storytelling abilities through the painted medium. These are paintings from a period which we may not have a lot in common with, especially when we consider how much has changed nearly 200 years ago.

However there were these series of paintings and drawings towards the back of the gallery that was much more human in nature titled ‘The road to ruin’. I found myself staring at this one picture.


From the painting titled ‘Struggles the first thing I noticed was the lady from the left holding onto this piece of paper looking rather distressed. It was also clear that everyone in the picture was also affected and clearly anxieties were filling this picture.

Seeing pictures like this had put my life into perspective. I wasn’t going through what these people were going through. I was immediately filled with a feeling of empathy and that guilt of staring into these character’s lives whether they were real or not.

I’m grateful I am not struggling, but also slightly disturbed that I understand that it’s all too easy to fall into that situation.

Published by Edward

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