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

Famous Paintings in this Series

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King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

Sir Edward Coley

The Mill

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John Crome

On the Skirts of the Forest

Pascal Adolphe Jean

The Blessed Bread

Theophile Emanuel Duverger


C.W. Furse

Diana of the Uplands

W.H. Gore


Peter Graham

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Jean Baptiste Greuze

The Listening Girl

Sir James Guthrie

A Highland Funeral

Frans Hals

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In His Hand

Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors

Henry Holiday

Dante and Beatrice

Sir Edwin Landseer


Sir Edwin Landseer

A Naughty Child

H.H. La Thangue

Mowing Bracken

Sir Thomas Lawrence

Caroline of Brunswick,
Queen of George IV.

G.D. Leslie

Sun and Moon Flowers

J. Seymour Lucas


Jean Louis Ernest

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Jean Francois Millet

The Angelus

Jean Francois Millet

Going to Work

Sir William Quiller

The Farmer's Daughter

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His Own Portrait

Sir Joshua Reynolds

The Infant Samuel

Sir Joshua Reynolds

The Strawberry Girl

George Romney

The Parson's Daughter

W. Dendy Sadler

A Good Story

W. Dendy Sadler


William Small

The Last Match

J.M. Swan

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Lioness and Cubs

J.M.W. Turner

Peace: Burial at Sea of the
Body of Sir David Wilkie

J.M.W. Turner

Rain Steam and Speed
The Great Western Railway


Portrait of a Spanish Lady
"La Femme a L'Eventail"

Frederick Walker

The Vagrants

George Frederick Watts


James McNeill Whistler

My Mother

Anders Zorn

A Fisherman

Index Page
Famous Paintings