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 Frank Holl  (1845 - 1888)

About: Frank Holl
 

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: painting

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from Auction House Records.
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Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Christie's London, King Street:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Frank Holl was considered 'The English Velasquez’ and was one of the most successful and fashionable portrait painters of his age, numbering the Prince of Wales, Millais and Gladstone amongst his sitters. 

Success bought him a studio house in Hampstead and another in the country.  He had turned to portrait painting, however, out of necessity as genre painting fell out of fashion by the late 1870s.  Holl’s early reputation had been established, along with Hubert von Herkomer and Luke Fildes, as early contributors to The Graphic magazine.  His work had 'wrought pathos from social realism’, unflinchingly tackling suffering, grief and poverty in pictures such as No Tidings from the Sea (Royal Collection) and most notably Newgate, Committed for Trial (Royal Holloway College).

Holl rarely used his children as models in his work, but he did paint Nina, his third daughter, in several important pictures including The Daughter of the House (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia).  She is also depicted in Did you ever kill anybody father? which was painted in 1883 when Holl was working on a portrait of Field Marshall Lord Wolseley, posed in uniform with his ceremonial sword.  The inspiration for the picture was recorded by Holl’s eldest daughter’s Ada in her biography of her father The Life and Work of Frank Holl '[Nina] had one day wandered into the studio after a sitting....calmly mounted the throne and taken up Lord Wolsley’s sword, which happened to be lying across the chair.  She contemplated it gravely for a few moments and then suddenly looking up, [and] said, 'Did Lord Wolseley ever kill anybody with this father?'   Holl held the picture in high regard and intended it to be his diploma work for full membership of the Royal Academy.  In the event he gave it to his wife and it then passed to their loyal patrons Mr and Mrs Tonks who in the following year acquired Holl's companion picture, also of Nina, The First Violin.

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