The painter F. R. Pickersgill was born into an artistic family, and studied under his maternal uncle, Witherington, a portrait painter and Royal Academician. He entered the Academy Schools in 1839, sending his first picture for exhibition there in the same year. He became a noted history painter, favouring as well subjects from literature, the poets and the classics. Other subjects were from contemporary life, and from the bible. In 1847 his composition The Death of Harold won first prize in the competition for Westminster Hall, and he was elected ARA. He became a full Academician in 1850, in which year he painted Samson Betrayed, considered his masterpiece.
Pickersgill always concentrated on the people in his pictures, and favoured a type of face that belongs to the early Victorians rather than the later styles. His work was widely popularised through engravings by many of the best engravers - Dalziel, Linton and so on.
Samson Betrayed, a most charming A Little Gondelay and other work by Pickersgill are in Manchester. Prospero and Miranda is in Liverpool, and Guardroom of the Horseguards is in the collection of the National Army Museum. Pickersgill also made some illustrations for magazines, and these can still be found in second hand bookshops.
Illustration by F. R .Pickersgill.