Charles Dickens in His Study

Charles Dickens in His Study is an oil on canvas painting by English artist William Powell Frith, created in 1859. The painting is signed and dated at the lower left, 'W P Frith fecit 1859'. It is held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London.[1]

Charles Dickens in His Study
Charles Dickens by Frith 1859 (2).jpg
ArtistWilliam Powell Frith
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions98 cm × 84 cm (39 in × 33 in)
LocationVictoria and Albert Museum, London

History and descriptionEdit

It was John Forster, a friend and biographer of English writer Charles Dickens, who commissioned the current portrait from Frith, at the height of Dickens fame. Firth was also a great admiter of Dickens and took often inspiration from his work in his genre paintings. Forster had a similar photograph of Dickens to be taken before the painting, but Frith decided to ignore it and didn't used it. Firth seems to have struggled to finish the portrait. In a letter of the same year, he wrote about his "portrait of Charles Dickens whose troublesome face I shall remember to the day of my death".[2] Forster appreciated the final result, unlike Dickens, because he didn't liked the way his expression was depicted in it. Dickens stated that "It is a little too much (to my thinking) as if my next door neighbour were my deadly foe, uninsured, and I had just received tidings of his house being a-fire."[1][3]

The portrait depicts Dickens seated in his house study, in Bloomsbury, looking to the left, with legs crossed, with one hand on his pocket and the other arm on the chair. In his secretary, to the right, some pages of the first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities, the novel he was then working on, can be seen, like also two volumes. At the bottom right appears a wicker basket.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c "Charles Dickens in His Study".
  2. ^ "The Difficulty of Capturing Dickens".
  3. ^ "From Charles Dickens to scenes of Victorian life: the works of William Powell Frith".
  4. ^ "Dickens and Frith", by David Trotter, William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age, London, Guidall Art Gallery, 2006, pp. 29-40