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Oil painting - Dolly Varden
  • Dolly Varden
    Frith, William Powell RA, born 1819 - died 1909
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Dolly Varden

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1842 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Forster

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Paintings, Room 82, The Edwin and Susan Davies Galleries, case EAST WALL

Dolly Varden appears in the novel Barnaby Rudge, by Charles Dickens. It was written in 1840 but set in the 1780s. Charles Dickens described Dolly as: 'The very pink and pattern of good looks, in a smart little cherry coloured mantle...a little straw hat…And she wore such a cruel little muff, and such a heart-rending pair of shoes'.

Physical description

Portrait format painting depicting a woman in a white and red outfit posing in a woodland.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, painted)


1842 (painted)


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

Materials and Techniques

oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'W P Frith 1842'
Signed and dated by the artist, lower left


Height: 54.6 cm estimate, Width: 44.5 cm estimate, Height: 765 mm frame, Width: 665 mm frame, Depth: 60 mm frame

Object history note

Bequeathed by John Forster, 1876

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Dolly Varden', William Powell Frith, 1842

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

Bills, Mark and Vivien Knight (Eds.), William Powell Frith: Painting the Victorian Age. Yale University Press, 2006
Parkinson, R., Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860, London: HMSO, 1990, pp. 96-99
Victoria & Albert Museum. Charles Dickens. London: 1970, p.39.

The full text of the record is as follows:

"William Powell Frith, RA (1819-1909)
Dolly Varden

This represents the second type in a series of paintings which Frith made of Dolly Varden. The original version was completed by 31 January 1842 and this is a replica painted later the same year for Frank Stone, who gave it to John Forster. Dickens saw this painting in Stone's home and his pleasure in Frith's interpretation of his heroine led him to commission the 'Dolly Varden, looking back at her Lover', 1843, now in the collection of Baron Burton, and a companion piece of Kate Nickleby. Both of these are seen in the photograph of the dining-room at Gad's Hill."


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting


Paintings; Dickens


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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