The Vagrants
By Frederick Walker


The Vagrants
By Frederick Walker, A.R.A (1840-1875)
In the Tate Gallery, London

The inconsistencies of genius were never better shown than in Frederick Walker. Art was a passion with him, yet it is doubtful if he would have made any mark had he not been spurred to work by sheer necessity. From his early years he gave evidence of his skill yet when he was finally allowed to study seriously, he proved a most dilatory pupil. Only his great talent saved him from himself. He would sometimes sit for long periods in a state of acute nervousness before he could bring himself to attack his task. Then he would work with great rapidity, and with such mastery that the picture bore all the appearance of casual facility.

Three distinct stages mark his work. The first was devoted to line drawing, and he achieved fame by his illustrations of Thackeray's novels. Then came a time when he painted water-colours; and finally in 1867, he exhibited in the Royal Academy the first of his famous series of oil paintings.

Walker was original in everything that he undertook. He created a school of illustrating, just as in later years he inspired contemporary painters to copy his methods. "The Vagrants" was one of his favourite pictures, and may therefore be taken as representative of him. It shows his power of interpreting the beauty, as well as the realism, of rustic life, and also bears the mark of the influence of the British Museum in the classical grace of the gipsy girl. The scene of the picture is laid at Beddington, near Croydon, and the autumnal loveliness of the landscape, with its harmonies of warm colour, throws into bold relief the figures of the gipsies, grouped with an air of destitution around the fire.

From the book "Famous Paintings" printed in 1913.

Large files of this public domain print are available at Stock Photos at Songs of Praise
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Online "Name the Painting"










Frederick Walker
at the Tate Gallery

Frederick Walker
at the National Portrait Gallery

Frederick Walker Biography

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