SANDYS, Frederick

1829 - 1904

Frederick Sandys

As Antonio Frederic Augustus Sands, he was born at 17 St Giles (Grapes) Hill, Norwich on 1 May and baptised at St Stephen's Church, Norwich on 3 May 1829, but is better known as Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys or just Frederick Sandys, son of Anthony Sands (1806-17 February 1883), a drawing master and portrait and subject painter, and his wife Mary Ann née Browne (1809-1896), who married at Lakenheath, Suffolk on 22 December 1828. He received his earliest lessons in art from his father and first exhibited a drawing at the Norwich Art Union in 1839, the catalogue gives his age as 10, and continued to exhibit there until 1852, when his address was 2 Osnaburgh Street, Bloomsbury, London. He was educated at Norwich Grammar School and in 1846 attended the Norwich School of Design. His early studies show that he had a natural gift for careful and beautiful drawing and an early patron was the Revd James Bulwer, rector of Stody, Norfolk and a former pupil of Cotman for whom Sandys made architectural and antiquarian drawings and etched his drawings. Sandys exhibited at the Royal Society of Arts winning medals in 1846 and 1847 and, as A. Sands, exhibited at the Suffolk Fine Art Association at Ipswich in 1850 'Dead Game'. By 1851, the year he first exhibited at the Royal Academy, he had moved to London. He married at St Pancras, London in 1853, Georgiana Creed (born 1830), daughter of Jonathan Creed, a Norwich artist, but this marriage only lasted three years, and they petitioned for divorce in 1863. About 1855, Sands changed the spelling of his name to Sandys. A precocious draughtsman, he worked mainly as an illustrator and portraitist, but in the late 1850s and early 1860s he also painted in oils. Sandys first became acquainted with the Pre-Raphaelites in 1857 while working on an engraving of Millais 'Sir Isumbras at the Ford' when he called on Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) in order to get an accurate likeness for the engraving, and they became friends and for most of 1866 he stayed with Rossetti at 16 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, and went on a walking tour with him in October that year, but they later fell out. He had a long affair with the Romany woman Keomi Gray, by whom he had two sons and two daughters, Keomi sat as a model both for him and Rossetti. In the late 1860s he met Mary Emma Jones, the actress Mary Clive, when she modelled for 'The Magdalen' and a relationship developed and he took her as his common-law wife for the rest of his life and by whom he had at least ten children. He showed regularly at the Royal Academy from 1851 to 1886, and at the Grosvenor Gallery, London from 1877. His first independent illustration appeared in the Cornhill Magazine in 1860 and among his later works was a series of chalk portraits of writers, commissioned in 1880 by Alexander Macmillan. He became a founder member of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers in 1898. He died at Kensington, London on 25 June 1904.

Works by This Artist