Anthony Frederick Sandys Biography
Sandys was born in Norwich. His surname was Sands. Sandys added the’ y’ later.
He trained at the Norwich Art Union, and in the early 1850s moved to London. It would appear that Sandys left his wife in Norwich, and did not return to her. Sandys famously parodied Millais controversial painting ‘Sir Isumbras at the Ford,’ with his drawing ‘The Nightmare.’ This brought Sandys to the attention of the Pre-Raphaelites, who, surprisingly, were not offended. In the 1860s Sandys lived with Rossetti, at his house in Cheyne Walk.
Sandys had an affair with a gypsy girl called Keomi, whose portrait he painted. For many years he lived with a well-known actress called Mary Jones, stage name Miss Clive, and she was the model for a number of his paintings. Sandys & Mary Jones had nine children who survived infancy. In truth Sandys seems to have been a real old rascal! Sandys carefree mode of life, his liking for women and drink caused him considerable long term financial problems. Sandys seems to have used his wits, & ability to entertain people on convivial evenings to help him through his problems.
Frederick Sandys was one of the most able, consistent, & significant of the Pre-Raphaelites. Sandys had a penchant for painting half- length figures of malicious sexually predatory women. In real life, as will be seen above, Sandys did not seem to be in any awe of women! Sandys was probably the best draughtsman amongst the Pre-Raphaelites, and he was a supremely naturally talented artist, in the same league as Millais. The rejection of Medea by the Royal Academy in 1868 seems to have had, not surprisingly, a profound effect on Sandys. This rejection by the Hanging Committee was quite obviously politically based. Sandys was a painstaking perfectionist in the execution of his oil paintings, & he must have asked himself if all the hard work was worthwhile. Following this Sandys painted much less in oils, and tended to produce portraits in coloured chalks. This move was less of a loss than it seems, as many of the coloured chalk portraits are beautifully done. Whatever Sandys did, artistically he did well.
Frederick Sandys died in London on 25th June 1904.