"A Dream of the Past" - the Pre-Raphaelite painter, illustrator and draughtsman Frederick Sandys

1 May 1829, 185 years ago, the  Pre-Raphaelite painter, illustrator and draughtsman Frederick Sandys was born in Norwich.

“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?“ (Alfred Lord Tennyson)


Frederick Sandys: Keomi Gray as "Morgan Le Fay" (1864)


Frederick Sandys came into the Pre-Rapahelite circle when the actual time of the brotherhood was actually over already. The aftermath of their movement was in full swing, however, and the medievalising strands as well as the marked preference for depicting a “femme fatale” type of models in surroundings of myth and legend had asserted itself in English painting. And in the timespan before the paintings that emerged at this time became associated and absorbed in the wider pan-European Symbolist movement, Sandys, primarily a draughtsman, created a few remarkable works of art under the influence and along with his friend Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The two had been flatmates for a time, were inspired by the same models and fell out when Rossetti accused Sandys of downright plagiarism.




Frederick Sandys: "The Nightmare" (1857)


A caricature of Millais’ controversial “A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford“ labelled “The Nightmare” gained him entry into London art society and Sandys took to it like a fish to water, drawing, printing, painting, fathering at least two children on Rossetti’s and his model, the Romany Keomi Gray and 10 more on his muse and later common-law wife, the actress Miss Clive and while he continued to work as illustrator for various magazines, creating engravings heavily influenced by Dürer’s woodcuts in a constantly melancholic ambience and portraits of minor notables that show tendencies of realism. But, until his death in 1904, the most striking feature of his oeuvre were the almost symbolistic portrayals of Elizabeth Siddal, Keomi Gray and Miss Clive in mythological guise.



Frederick Sandys: "Mary Magdalene" (1858 - 60), probably featuring Lizzie Siddal