Morgan le Fay
Oil on Panel, completed in 1864. Original dimensions:
17.5in x 24.8in
Original Painting held in City Museum and Art Gallery ,
Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys (May 1,1829 - June 25, 1904),
born in Norwich England, usually known as "Frederick Sandys", was a British Pre-Raphaelite painter, illustrator and
draughtsman, of the Victorian era.
He received his earliest lessons in art from his father, who was himself a painter. His early studies show that he had a
natural gift for careful and beautiful drawing. In 1846 Sandys attended the Norwich School of Design. In the same and
next year his talent was recognized by the Society of Arts. He displayed great skills as a draughtsman, achieving
recognition with his print parodying John Everett Millais's Sir Isumbras at the Ford in 1857. The caricaturist turned the
horse of Sir Isumbras into a donkey labelled J. R., Oxon. (John Ruskin). Upon it were seated Millais himself, in the
character of the knight, with Rossetti and William Holman Hunt as the two children, one before and one behind, Rossetti
and Sandys became intimate friends, and for about a year and a quarter, ending in the summer of 1867, Sandys lived
with Rossetti at Tudor House (now called Queens House) in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. His own works were profoundly
influenced by those of Rossetti. He focused mainly on mythological subjects and portraits.
By this time Sandys was known as a painter of remarkable gifts. He had begun by drawing for Once a Week, the Cornhill
Magazine, Good Words and other periodicals. He drew only in the magazines. No books illustrated by him can be traced.
So his exquisite draughtsmanship has to be sought for in the old bound-up periodical volumes which are now hunted by
collectors, or in publications such as Dalziels' Bible Gallery and the Cornhill Gallery and books of drawings, with verses
attached to them, made to lie upon the drawing-room tables of those who had for the most part no idea of their merits.
Every drawing Sandys made was a work of art, and many of them were so faithfully engraved that they are worthy of the
collectors portfolio. Early in the sixties he began to exhibit the paintings which set the seal upon his fame.
The best known of these are Vivien (1863), Morgan le Fay (1864), Cassandra and Medea. Sandys never became a popular painter. He painted
little, and the dominant influence upon his art was the influence exercised by lofty conceptions of tragic power. There was in it a sombre intensity
and an almost stern beauty which lifted it far above the ideals of the crowd. The Scandinavian Sagas and the Morte d'Art/fur gave him subjects
after his own heart. The Valkyrie and Morgan Ie Fay represent his work at its very best. He made a number of chalk drawings of famous men of
letters, including Tennyson, Browning, Matthew Arnold, and James Russell Lowell.
Oil on wood panel 1858-1860.
13 1/4 x 11 inches
Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial (Delaware Art Museum)