- Extended catalogue entry
© National Portrait Gallery, London
by David Wilkie Wynfield
Albumen print, circa 1863-4
8 1/8 in. x 6 in. (207 mm x 152 mm)
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Inscriptionback to top
On mount below print, photographic facsimile of sitters 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 Johns Wood Clique, who comprised most of Wynfields 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 Titians portrait of Jacopo Sannazaro in the Royal Collection (RCIN407190). One early commentator identified the image differently, claiming that from Frederick Walkers beautiful profile Wynfield evolved a young Florentine painter. 
The image was in existence by February 1864, when George du Maurier remarked on Wynfields splendid costume photographs, writing You should see Lewis, Leighton, Calderon., Prinsep, Walker! Quels grands seigneurs!  George Frederic Watts also commended Wynfields 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 Winfields [sic]: Val, Fred Walker & Oldham Barlow and one or two others. 
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.  Evidence that this pursuit was a personal favourite appears in Du Mauriers 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.  Bevis Hillier, however, sees the tragic figure of Hamlet in this image of Walker. 
Walkers 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.  Walkers 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,  a costume Marks described as boots, knee-breeches, and short-waisted tightly fitting coat show[ing] off his symmetrical figure to advantage. 
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 P70P100
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, 1915,0710.127, vol.2, f.79, no.520b (where the image appears dated to 1869).
5) Du Maurier 1895, p.2512.
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 17959 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, 1915,0710.127, 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, Dunthornes Gallery, London, 1885 (13).