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Home / Great Artists / S / Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys / Biography
Biography Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys

Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys Biography


1829-1904


English Pre-Raphaelite Painter


Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys (born Antonio Frederic Augustus Sands) (May 1, 1829 - June 25, 1904), but usually known as Frederick Sandys, was a British Pre-Raphaelite painter, illustrator and draughtsman, of the Victorian era.

He was born in Norwich, England and 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 collector's 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 (1868).

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 Le Morte d'Arthur gave him subjects after his own heart. The Valkyrie and Morgan le 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.

He married Georgiana Creed, but this marriage only lasted three years, although they never divorced. He had a long affair with the Romany Keomi Gray (she sat as the model for the "Medea" amongst other paintings.) He settled with actress Mary Emma Jones (who was known as "Mrs Sandys") for the rest of his life. He died in the Kensington area of London in 1904.