Frederick Augustus Sandys, the painter and illustrator, was born in Norwich on 1st May 1829. From the age of ten Sandys work was being displayed locally by his father and just a few years later he started to receive commissions. He studied at the Norwich grammar school then at the Norwich School of Design, where he entered Society of Arts competitions, winning a silver medal for portrait in chalk and also for an oil painting of wild ducks.
In 1845 Sandys started to work for his patron the Revd James Bulwer, he was to illustrate a number of Bulwer’s articles for Norfolk Archaeology. Bulwer also asked him to make 220 pencil drawings of local antiquities, medieval church furnishings and architectural details.
Sandys first met the Pre-Raphaelites in 1857, whilst working an engraving A Nightmare, which was a parody of Millais's Sir Isumbras at the Ford. He visited Rossetti to get an accurate resemblance for the engraving, and they became friends.
In the 1860s Sandys was painting portraits. These were very detailed, often containing floral backgrounds which were a success with his wealthy middle-class patrons.
He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy between 1851 and 1886, also at the Grosvenor Gallery, London from 1877. He became a founder member of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers in 1898.
Sandys often had problems with money, attempting to live the life of a fashionable man about town, whilst trying to support his large family. This left him penniless and unable to afford his rent.
He died in London on 25th June 1904.