The Derby Day
Frith, William Powell
Europe, United Kingdom, England
102.3 x 234.4 cm
The Derby Day 1893-4
William Powell Frith 1819-1909
Oil on canvas
Derby Day was an established day out by the 1850s.
The crowds of thousands came from all social classes
for the colourful entertainments as much as the race.
Frith's first visit to Epsom Downs was in 1856,
when he was taken in by a thimble-rigging gang.
A team of these con-men can be seen on the left.
The Victorians were fascinated by phrenology,
the reflection of social types in facial characteristics.
This partly accounts for the success of The Derby Day
and other crowd scenes by Frith and his followers.
This version replicates a Royal Academy exhibit of 1858.
It was commissioned by James Gresham of Stretford
and was thought by Frith to be better than his original.