Collection Online
Study for The Vicar of Wakefield
oil on canvas
21.0 × 26.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1957
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
Oliver Goldsmith’s 1766 novel The Vicar of Wakefield, about a virtuous Yorkshire cleric fallen upon hard times, became one of the most popular works of sentimental fiction in the Victorian era and helped launch the career of the young Yorkshire artist William Frith. Frith’s flirtatious scene Measuring heights was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1842 and he later referred to it as ‘my first success’. Frith was made an Associate of the Royal Academy only two years later, and a full Academician in 1852. He made other paintings based on passages from Goldsmith’s novel of which this charming small study is most likely related.


This heavily distressed small fluted scotia, classical revival frame appears to have been added to the painting in the twentieth century, possibly around the time of acquisition in 1957.
Though the form of the frame and the classical revival style are not inappropriate for the date of the sketch, the version of the frame shown here is a long way removed from a nineteenth century frame.

Unknown - 20th century

timber, composition, gesso some traces of metal leaf