William Powell Frith
The Salon d’Or, Homburg
William Powell Frith, English, The Salon d’Or, Homburg, 1871, Oil on canvas; 125.1 x 260.4 cm (49 3/16 x 102 1/2 inches), Gift of Mr. Walter Lowry 58.162
In 1869, the elegant Salon d’Or at Bad Homburg was about to lose its lease, a fact acknowledged by the painting’s subtitle, which may be translated as “the game is closed … no more bets.” Known for his journalistic accuracy, Frith purchased fittings and furniture from the casino, hired photographers to record its architectural detail, and compiled numerous portrait sketches. Layers of accurate representation, revealing personalities, vices, and fears, permitted Frith’s painting to be read like a popular novel. Authenticity in the mix of social classes, the expressions on the gamblers’ faces, and the details of their costumes also assured the attention of the viewers who flocked to see the painting when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1872.