William Edward Frost

(September 1810 - 4 June 1877)

Entered the schools of the Royal Academy in 1829, painting portraits for some years in great numbers and with considerable success. A disciple and follower of Etty, he early made a study of the nude female figure, going to classic mythology for his subjects. Among his earlier works, are "Bacchanalian Dance," in 1844; "Una and the Wood Nymphs," in 1847; "May Morning," in 1853; "The Sirens" and "The Daughters of Hesperus," in 1860; "The Graces and Loves" and "Sea Nymphs," in 1863; " The Death of Adonis," in 1865; "Puck," in 1869; "The Haunt of Diana" and "Cupid Disarmed," in 1870; and "Musidora," in 1871. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1846, and Academician in 1872, when he exhibited "Nymph and Cupid" (his diploma work). He sent to the Royal Academy, in 1874, "A Bacchante," his last important work. Many of these pictures have become familiar by photography and engraving.

"Less ambitious than Etty to appear as a great colorist, or rather less lavish of his pigments, and less daring in their application, Frost is not less true to nature; while in correctness of drawing, delicacy of feeling, and in female beauty of the most refined expression, his works far surpass those of his great prototype." — Art Journal, September, 1877.

Artists of the Nineteenth Century and their Works. Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.


"Una and the Wood Nymphs" 1847. Purchased by Queen Victoria.

English mythological and allegorical painter, was born at Wandsworth in 1810. He received his first instruction in art from an amateur, then at Sass's academy, and finally at the schools of the Royal Academy, which he entered in 1829, and where, in 1839, he won the gold medal with his 'Prometheus bound.' For the first fourteen years of his career he painted portraits, and then relinquished that branch of art to follow in the footsteps of Etty, to whom he had been introduced at the age of fifteen, and who had given him much advice. At the Westminster Hall competition in 1843, he obtained a prize of £100 for his 'Una surprised by Fauns.' He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1846, but did not become an Academician until 1871, when he deposited as his diploma picture 'A Nymph and Cupid.' He died in London in 1877. [Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers, 1903.]
His chief works are:

Sabrina. 1845. Diana surprised by Actieon. 1846. Una and tho Wood Nymphs. 1847. Tho Disarming of Cupid. 1850. Chastity. 1851.
The Syrens. 1860. Puck. 1869. *Narcissus. 1857. Tho Graces and Loves. 1863. Ilylas and tho Nymphs. 1867.
[*Intemattoml Exhibition, 1862.]


The Graces. (W. E. Frost, A.)
I believe Mr. Frost might be a painter if he chose; but he will not become one by multiplying studies of this kind, looking like Etty's with all the colour scraped off. Everybody knows well enough, by this time, that Graces always stand on one leg, and bend the other, and never have anything to fasten their dresses with at the waists. Cannot Mr. Frost tell us something new? [William Edward Frost had been introduced to Etty at an early age, and followed that master's style. He was elected A.R.A. in 1846, and R.A. in 1871. His principal works were all of mythological subjects.]

[The Works of John Ruskin, Vol. 14, George Allen, 1904.]

Three Graces (1848)
Taken from John Milton’s pastoral poem L’Allegro (The Happy Man), published in 1645. The Three Graces from Greek mythology are led in dance by the nymph Euphrosyne, who personifies joy or mirth, playing a tambourine. She is accompanied by her sisters, Aglaia representing elegance and Thalia, embodying youth and beauty. They were the daughters of Zeus and came to symbolise pagan beauty.

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