Collection Online
The crisis
oil on canvas
122.4 × 158.1 cm
inscribed in brown paint l.l.: FRANK DICKSEE 1891
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1891
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
Subjects (general)
Emotions and Mental States Human Figures Relationships and Interactions
Subjects (specific)
bed coverings beds (furniture) ill (people) illness men (male humans) reclining sleeping women (female humans)

Exhibited Royal Academy, London, 1891, no. 115; from where purchased, on the advice of Sir Hubert von Herkomer, for the NGV, 1891.

Exhibited: Royal Academy, London, 1891, no. 115; First Interchange Exhibition: Loan Collection of oil paintings exhibited at Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, 1894, no. 3; repr. Victorian Social Conscience, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1976, no. 16; The First Fifty Years: Nineteenth Century British Art from the Gallery Archives, NGV, Melbourne, 1992; Hidden Treasures, David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney, 1992; lent to the Western Australian State Centenary Celebrations, Perth, 1928.

Frank Dicksee attended the RA Schools from 1870–75, and won a gold medal in 1875. He went on to have a very successful career painting romantic genre subjects and social dramas in a style influenced by painters such as Millais and Watts. 1891, the year he painted The crisis, was notable for Dicksee as his work received a great deal of attention in the press and he was elected a full Royal Academician before the exhibition of that year closed. Sir Hubert von Herkomer purchased The crisis for the NGV directly from the RA exhibition. Although his views on art were archly conservative, Dicksee was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1924.


The frame is labelled on each side of the reverse. The label transcribes as: SMITH & UPPARD (successors to W. A. Smith), CARVERS and GILDERS, 77 Mortimer Street, Regent Street, London, French colours and Brushes.1 The company is one of a line of frame makers associated with the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. The frame is beautifully crafted and imposing in its scale. Though the form is derived from Pre-Raphaelite and Italian cassetta influences, it is nevertheless bold in its use of such a large scale and fluid form in the outer section.


1 William Augustine Smith (W. A. Smith) took over the business of Joseph Green & Co. in 1872, changing to Smith & Uppard in 1889. This business was in turn acquired by James Bourlet & Sons in 1899. (Jacob Simon, The Art of The Picture Frame, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1996, p 134.) The firm is also known as artists’ colourmen ( There are two frames by W. A. Smith in the collection – an identical pair, found on the two paintings by G. F. Watts’ Portrait of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Love and Death (p.312.5-1).

Smith & Uppard
77 Mortimer Street, Regent Street, London W

The frame is made from timber without any use of cast or moulded ornament. It has been built by combining profiled forms and a flat section. The flat is veneered in oak with the corners of each part mitred. It is secured to the deep section of the outer frame with spacer blocks and screws. Screws are also used to secure the flat to the inner sections. The whole surface is water gilded onto a red bole, through to the working edge, though the veneered section appears to be on a white base. The gilding is very highly crafted, the leaf sections being evident only on the oak surface of the flat.


The surface size layer is deteriorated. Two small sections, broken from the lip of the slip, were repaired in 2002 and the frame was cleaned. The frame is in remarkable condition.

169.0 x 204.0 x 11.0 cm; sight 120.5 x 155.0 cm
More Information
National Portrait Gallery


Location of stamp
Paper label at centre cross braces and stamp in lower left quadrant
Paper label and ink stamp
More Information
National Portrait Gallery