According to the Mapping Sculpture website, Frith, a sculptor and wood carver like his father Henry, was born in Leicester, Leicestershire, and studied at the South London Technical School of Art, the Lambeth School of Art, and later at the Royal Academy Schools. A member of the Royal Society of Sculptors (1904-1924), he was elected fellow the year before his death. He also belonged to the Art Workers Guild (1886-1924) where he gave talks on monumental wood sculpture, the Influence of mathematics on sculpture, and stone-carving. As the Mapping Sculpture entry on him explains, Frith was vitally important to the Lambeth Art Schools: he was a "key player, with John Sparkes, in transferring the teaching of modelling to South London Technical School of Art in 1879," where he "succeeded Dalou as tutor of modelling in 1880 and held the position till retirement in 1895." His skill as an instructor helped produce a galaxy of top-class sculptors in the next generation, including , Harry Bates, George Frampton, Alfred Gilbert, Goscombe John, Pomeroy, and Wenlock Rollins. According to Marion Spielmann, pupils from the school went on from there to complete their training at the National Art Training School or the Royal Academy Schools" (1). Spielmann calls him "one of the most successful instructors who ever worked in England," adding that "the mass of his work has been decorative" (95).

Spielmann mentions many of the works shown on our website, and includes, interestingly, some of the wonderful ceilings of the Victoria Law Courts, where he also carved much of the external sculptural decoration to Walter Crane's designs. Speilmann concludes: "The qualities of Mr. Frith's work are surely its freedom of line and vigour of modelling; the consideration and intelligence displayed throughout, the spirit of design, richness of effect, and the clear understanding of the virtues and the limitations of his materials" (96). Benedict Read is particularly concerned that his importance and skills as an instructor "should not obscure his fine executed work" (306). — George P. Landow and Jacqueline Banerjee.



Academy Architecture and Architectural Review. Ed. Alexander Koch. London: Academy Architecture, 1904-1908. Internet Archive copy from University of California Libraries. Web. 7 April 2013.

Beattie, Susan. The New Sculpture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983. Print.

Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1982. Print.

Spielmann, Marion Harry. British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today. London: Cassell, 1901. Internet Archive. Web. 7 April 2013.

William Silver Frith.” Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951. University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011. Web. 7 April 2013.

Last modified 23 May 2013