The Twisted Tale of Frith’s Radical Romantics


Discover the story of angst, heartbreak and death that lurks behind William Powell Frith’s seemingly innocuous depiction of a lover’s tryst. ‘The Lover’s Seat’ shows the acclaimed Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Godwin, author of Frankenstein, at the beginning of their affair in 1814. The couple fell madly in love and fled to France so that they could be together, with Shelley leaving behind his pregnant wife and young child. Proponents of the radical idea of “free love”, Shelley and Godwin associated themselves with other free-thinkers and intellectuals of the time, including the notorious Lord Byron. Doomed from the offset, debt and death followed the couple throughout their rocky relationship. ‘The Lover’s Seat’ is a highlight of our upcoming Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art sale in London (July 11, 2:00pm BST). Click here to watch more Sotheby’s videos.

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