William Edward Frost (September 1810 – 4 June 1877) was an English painter of the Victorian era. Virtually alone among English artists in the middle Victorian period, he devoted his practice to the portrayal of the female nude. Specialising in portraiture from about 1830, Frost painted more than 300 portraits during a 15-year period, and showed some as his first exhibits from 1836.
William Edward Frost was born in Wandsworth, then in Surrey, in September 1810. He showed artistic talent from an early age, and was encouraged in this by his father: first by his arranging drawing lessons with a Miss Evatt, a neighbouring amateur, and then, in 1825, by his introducing him to William Etty, who became his mentor. On Etty’s recommendation, he entered Henry Sass’s School for Drawing and Painting at 6 Charlotte Street, in 1826, and spent three years there, while also studying at the British Museum each winter.
Frost was educated in the schools of the Royal Academy, beginning in 1829; he established a reputation as a portrait painter before branching into historical and mythological subjects, including the subgenre of fairy painting that was characteristic of Victorian art. In 1839 he won the Royal Academy’s gold medal for his Prometheus Bound, and in 1843 he won a prize in the Westminster Hall competition for his Una Alarmed by Fauns (a subject from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene). He was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1846, and a full member in 1870.