Whitby photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe's medals to go under hammer

The 56 medals awarded between 1874 and 1897 to pioneering Whitby photographic artist Frank Meadow Sutcliffe are to be sold at auction.
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Sutcliffe (1853-1941), the eldest of eight children of the painter Thomas Sutcliffe, worked first in Tunbridge Wells before returning to the family home in Whitby s Broomfield Terrace, and later moved with his wife Eliza, née Duck, and their four children, to Sleights.

Sutcliffe made a living as a portrait photographer, influenced by prominent figures in the world of art such as John Ruskin, to whom he was introduced as a boy by his father.

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His work provided an enduring record of life in and around Whitby in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.
Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.

His most famous photograph, Water Rats (1886), featuring naked children playing in a boat, earned him condemnation from his local clergy who excommunicated him, but did not stop the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) from purchasing a copy.

His work is in the collection of the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society, and in other national collections.

Estimated at £2,400-3,000, the medals range from Scotland to the USA to Austria and more local places like Keighley; and they are being sold by a private vendor.

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Peter Preston-Morley, Head of Coin Department at Dix Noonan Webb, said: “This is the first that I have seen such an extensive collection of photography medals awarded to one person.

Some of Sutcliffe's medals.Some of Sutcliffe's medals.
Some of Sutcliffe's medals.

"When these medals were awarded between 1870s-90s, photography was still a relatively new phenomenon – you normally see more dating from the end of the Victorian era, so 1900 – 1910 onwards.

"Sutcliffe was obviously at the forefront of his game, and was showered with awards, not only on a regional level from Yorkshire, but also nationally and internationally.”

The sale will take place at Dix Noonan Webb’s saleroom in Mayfair over June 2 and 3 - visit dnw.co.uk to see it.