Sunday, July 13, 2008


William Powell Frith 1819-1909
Retribution 1880
Oil on panel 327mm x 412mm
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham

Frith is know for his large pictures of scenes from Victorian life. He was very popular in his lifetime. He painted two series of five pictures each, telling moral stories in the manner of William Hogarth. These were the Road to Ruin (1878), about the dangers of gambling, and the Race for Wealth (1880) about reckless financial speculation.

He did not care for the Pre-Raphaelites or the Aesthetic Movement

This scene is the last of five pictures in 'The Race for Wealth' series depicting the rise and fall of a crooked financier. The scene is set in Millbank Prison, London

Millbank Prison was a large prison built in Millbank, Pimlico, London. It opened in 1821. It was designed in accordance with the utilitarian principles laid down by Jeremy Bentham

It was used until 1886 and demolished in 1890.

On part of its site stands the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) built in 1897

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