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Oil painting - Scene from <i>A Sentimental Journey</i>
  • Scene from A Sentimental Journey
    Frith, William Powell RA, born 1819 - died 1909
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Scene from A Sentimental Journey

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    1841 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Frith, William Powell RA, born 1819 - died 1909 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

W.P. Frith's painting is based upon an episode in Laurence's Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768). Visiting Paris, the Reverend Mr. Yorick asks a beautiful young woman for directions, then forgets them and comes back to the shop to ask again. He compliments her by saying "you must have one of the best pulses of any woman in the world", and she replies "Feel it..." Sterne continues:

"I had counted twenty pulsations, and was going on fast towards the fortieth, when the husband, coming unexpected from a back-parlour into the shop, put me a little out in my reckoning. - 'Twas nobody but her husband, she said - so I began a fresh score. - Monsieur is so good, quoth she, as he pass'd by us, to give himself the trouble of feeling my pulse. - The husband took off his hat, and making me a bow, said, I did him too much honour... "

The novelist refers to her as a "grisette", a working woman sometimes employed as a shop assistant or garment maker. Yorick eventually buys some gloves, pays the woman and departs.

Frith produced a number of works that interpret scenes from Sterne's novels. The Laurence Sterne Trust holds a painting entitled The Beautiful Grisette (1853), which shows the shop counter separating the parson and the woman.


1841 (painted)


Frith, William Powell RA, born 1819 - died 1909 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'W P Frith 1841'
Signed by the artist, lower right


Height: 90.2 cm estimate, Width: 69.9 cm estimate

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Scene from Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey', William Powell Frith, 1841

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Parkinson, R., Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, London: HMSO, 1990, p. 106


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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