Frederick Walker

1 portrait

Frederick Walker, by David Wilkie Wynfield, circa 1863-4 -NPG P84 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Frederick Walker

by David Wilkie Wynfield
Albumen print, circa 1863-4
8 1/8 in. x 6 in. (207 mm x 152 mm)
NPG P84


Click on the links below to find out more:

Inscriptionback to top

On mount below print, photographic facsimile of sitter’s autograph.

This portraitback to top

This image was created during the early 1860s by David Wilkie Wynfield for his series of artists portrayed in historical and contemporary costume, many of which were released for sale from March 1864 under the title The Studio: A Collection of Photographic Portraits of Living Artists, taken in the style of the Old Masters, by an Amateur. Although a somewhat later recruit to the St John’s Wood Clique, who comprised most of Wynfield’s sitters, Frederick Walker was their close associate.

There are two known variant photographs of Walker in costume taken by Wynfield, one of which was released – together with the portraits of Henry Wyndham Phillips, F.R. Pickersgill and William Holman Hunt – in Part 4 of The Studio, ‘After the Venetian School’. It is not known whether this image was so designated, but the profile pose and costume, in particular the shirt over a square-necked tunic, are reminiscent of Titian’s portrait of Jacopo Sannazaro in the Royal Collection (RCIN407190). One early commentator identified the image differently, claiming that ‘from Frederick Walker’s beautiful profile Wynfield evolved a young Florentine painter’. [1]

The image was in existence by February 1864, when George du Maurier remarked on Wynfield’s ‘splendid’ costume photographs, writing ‘You should see Lewis, Leighton, Calderon., Prinsep, Walker! Quels grands seigneurs!’ [2] George Frederic Watts also commended Wynfield’s depiction of Walker, when he wrote to Julia Margaret Cameron, ‘The jewel of perfection I speak of is best found because it exists in connection with extraordinary artistic qualities in some 3 or 4 of Winfield’s [sic]: Val, Fred Walker & Oldham Barlow and one or two others.’ [3]

The other Wynfield pose (Royal Photographic Society, Bath, 1992p) shows Walker full-face wearing the same decorative chain and holding a cup-and-ball novelty game. [4] Evidence that this pursuit was a personal favourite appears in Du Maurier’s novel Trilby (1894), in which Walker is glimpsed ‘gravely playing cup and ball … so well (with either hand) that [he] might have been [a] professional champion’. [5] Bevis Hillier, however, sees the tragic figure of Hamlet in this image of Walker. [6]

Walker’s liking for theatrical costume was noted by Henry Stacy Marks, who recalled a party where Walker arrived in costume, making ‘a comical figure as Orson – a pocket Hercules, clad in bear-skin and carrying a club of enormous proportions’. [7] Walker’s penchant for historical dress is further illustrated in a series of cartes-de-visite (see ‘All known portraits, Photographs’) where he appears as Robespierre, wearing ‘Directoire dress’, [8] a costume Marks described as ‘boots, knee-breeches, and short-waisted tightly fitting coat show[ing] off his symmetrical figure to advantage’. [9]

Additional prints of this image are in the Royal Academy of Arts, London, (03/7000), Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (1978P425), and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (130-1945).

See NPG collection P70–P100

Magdalene Keaney

Footnotesback to top

1) Smith 1927, p.152 (the author was the niece of W.F. Yeames). This was repeated by Garner 1973, p.158.
2) Letter from G. du Maurier to Thomas Armstrong, Feb. 1864; see Du Maurier 1951, p.228.
3) Letter from G.F. Watts to J.M. Cameron, undated (poss. 1865); quoted Hacking 2000, p.30.
4) See also E.E. Leggatt (Walker) coll., 2 vols containing original letters, prints, drawings and facsimiles of images of and by Frederick Walker, BM, London, 1915,0710.1–27, vol.2, f.79, no.520b (where the image appears dated to 1869).
5) Du Maurier 1895, p.251–2.
6) Bevis Hillier, ‘Is your family album valuable?’, The Times,17 Apr. 1971, p.22.
7) Marks 1894, vol.1, p.73.
8) ‘Directoire’ refers to the period 1795–9 in revolutionary France, when the country was ruled by a ‘Directorate’ of five officials; the outfit is annotated as ‘Robespierre’ by E.E. Leggatt (Walker) coll., 2 vols containing original letters, prints, drawings and facsimiles of images of and by Frederick Walker, BM, London, 1915,0710.1–27, vol.2, f.78.
9) Marks 1894, vol.1, p.73.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length, profile to right, in historical costume.

Provenanceback to top

Sir Edmund Gosse, from whose heirs purchased 1929.

Exhibitionsback to top

Frederick Walker, Dunthorne’s Gallery, London, 1885 (13).

View all known portraits for Frederick Walker

View all known portraits for David Wilkie Wynfield