The Relapse: The Meeting (Act 1, Scene 1)

William Powell Frith (1819 - 1909)

Pen and ink, wash and white heightening, on paper

1871
  • About the work
    Location
    Country: USA
    City: Washington DC
    Place: British Embassy

    This series of eleven sepia watercolours illustrate scenes from ‘The Relapse’, the first play written by the architect and playwright Sir John Vanbrugh. ‘The Relapse’ first opened at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, in 1696. It was written as a sequel to the popular play ‘Love’s Last Shift’ by Colley Cibber. In Cibber’s play, the rakish character Loveless is reformed by his long-suffering, virtuous wife Amanda. Vanburgh’s sequel sees Loveless returning to his old ways, beginning an affair with a spirited young widow called Berinthia, while his wife resists the advances of her persistent admirer, Worthy. The artist's inscriptions on the reverse of each drawing quote the relevant lines of text and identify characters, acts and scenes.

  • About the artist
    William Powell Frith was born near Ripon in Yorkshire. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools and was elected an Academician in 1852. During the 1840s he was a member of the artists' group 'The Clique'. Although his early subjects were historical or literary, Frith claimed to have been ‘strongly drawn’ to contemporary genre. He first painted the subject following a visit to Ramsgate of 1851, which resulted in ‘Ramsgate Sands’ (exhibited 1854). He went on to paint ‘Derby Day’ (1858), ‘The Railway Station’ (1862) and ‘Private View Day at the Royal Academy’ (1883). His 19 children - twelve with his wife and seven with his mistress - caused considerable financial difficulties. Frith died of pneumonia aged 90, at his home in St John's Wood.
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  • Details
    Title
    The Relapse: The Meeting (Act 1, Scene 1)
    Date
    1871
    Medium
    Pen and ink, wash and white heightening, on paper
    Dimensions
    height: 23.50 cm, width: 26.50 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Christie's, 25 April 1978
    Inscription
    Ins Verso tr: Loveless - My dear Amanda - / You find me musing on my happy state / And full of grateful thoughts to Heaven and you. / Relapse act 1 scene 1
    Provenance
    Collection of attorney and antiquary Sir William Richard Drake (1817-1890) of Prince's Gardens and Oatlands Lodge, Webridge; by whose executors sold through Christie's, London, 'Valuable and Extensive Collection of Water-colour Drawings formed by Sir William Richard Drake, F.S.A.' sale, 24 May 1892 (Lots 121-125; with GAC 13824-13833); collection of designer, editor and amateur painter Ana Inez Astor (née Carcano y Morra; 1918-1992; first wife of Sir John Jacob Astor); by whom sold through Christie's, London, on 25 April 1978 (Lot 201; with GAC 13824-13833); from which sale purchased by the Department for the Environment
    GAC number
    13823