Brangwyn, Frank

(1867 – 1956)



Inscribed with title

Red chalk on buff paper, 7 x 9 7/8 in. (18 x 25 cm.)

1 in stock


The earliest surviving pencil sketch by  Brangwyn is dated  1882.  Over  60  years  later  Brangwyn was still  producing drawings, including over 150 book illustrations.

Drawing was a compulsion for Brangwyn – endless sketches on the backs of envelopes,  letterheads and scraps of paper (in fact anything that came to hand)  attest to this.Brangwyn experimented with mixed media, often combining any of the following ‚Äî pencil,  crayon, chalk,  charcoal,  pastel,  pen  and ink and brush and ink. The drawings were made on a variety of different coloured papers.  

Although  he  had  no  formal  training  few  20th-century  British  artists rivalled his technical excellence ‚Äî in this respect he might be compared to Augustus John and William Orpen.  Brangwyn obviously enjoyed the process of sketching, hence the volume of work, sometimes drawing the same subject time and again with only small variations, and would return to  particular  images  for  inspiration  years  later,  making  dating  of completed works somewhat difficult.  His figure studies and  images of plants and animals, carried out in soft pencil, chalk, pastel or mixed media, dis-play  a  confidence  of line  which  rarely  required  change.  Brangwyn  felt that sketches show the most intimate side of an artist’s career  …  [studies] are usually the best thing an artist does.’

In common with many artists and writers, Brangwyn enjoyed the voy¬≠age of discovery far more than reaching port, the intellectual journey, the studies  and  cartoons,  more  than  the  signature  added  to  a  completed painting.  He explained this view to a reporter in  1933 :The  ideas  right  at  the  back  of  my  mind  ‚Äî  ideas  impossible  to express  in  words  ‚Äî  are  dawning  into  shape. The  painting  is  only secondary; it’s the thinking and planning ‚Äî the endless seeking for satisfaction with your work that really counts.’

It is in the drawings … that the key to Brangwyn’s greatness is to be found.’ TW  Earp, Brangwyn Art at Academy’

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Brangwyn, Frank

1867 – 1956

Frank Brangwyn was born in Bruges, Belgium, the son of an English father and Welsh mother. The family returned to London in 1874, Brangwyn’s father gaining work as a designer of buildings, embroideries and furniture. Although Brangwyn appears to have had little formal education, whether academic or artistic, his earliest mentors were three of the most influential men in design at the turn of the century: Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, William Morris and Siegfried Bing. Between 1884 and 1887 Brangwyn travelled to Kent, Cornwall and Devon, before venturing further with trips to Turkey in 1888, South Africa in 1891, Spain in 1892 and Morocco in 1893.

Brangwyn was an independent artist, an experimenter and innovator, capable of working on both large and small scale projects, ranging from murals, oil paintings, watercolours, etchings, woodcuts and lithographs to designs for architecture, interiors, stained glass, furniture, carpets, ceramics and jewellery, as well as book illustrations, bookplates and commercial posters. It is estimated that he produced over 12,000 works during his lifetime. Mural commissions included the Worshipful Company of Skinners, London (1902-09), St Aidan’s church, Leeds (1908-16), Manitoba Legislative Building, Winnipeg, Canada (1918-21), Christ’s Hospital, Horsham (1912-23), State Capitol, Jefferson City, USA (1915-25), the British Empire panels, Swansea (1925-32), and Rockefeller Center, New York (1930-34). Brangwyn married Lucy Ray in 1896 and took on the lease of Temple Lodge, Hammersmith, in 1900. In 1918 the artist purchased The Jointure, Ditchling, where he spent most of his time following his wife’s death in 1924. Elected RA in 1919, knighted in 1924, holder of countless artistic awards, Brangwyn was modest about his singular achievements, regarding art as an occupation and describing himself as a designer.


Book plate for Brangwyn’s Wife, Lucy
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, original design for T N Foulis, circa 1910
The Last Supper, St Joseph’s, Stokesley, 1946
Parrot – Original Study for the Great Empire Panels
Bricklayers, a study for Rebuilding Belgium, 1915
War Bonds 2 (Back Him Up, Buy War Bonds) W1930, circa 1918
Study for the Empire Panels in red chalk, circa 1925
Drapery Study for a Station of the Cross, circa 1933
Study for central panel of Nativity window, St Mary the Virgin, Bucklebury, Berkshire, early 1920’s
Study of Man Carrying Rifle, Study for Jefferson City
Study of a Monk, full length three-quarter view, Study for St Aidan
Man Singing, study for Christ’s Hospital, panel 7
Studies for St Amand and St Eloi ‘ windows in the Abbey St Andr’, Bruges
Study of Figure with Vessel, study for Venice Biennale 1905
Working Men, study for Lloyds Register of Shipping
Working photomontage for Man’s Ultimate Destiny, Rockefeller, 1933
The 2nd Station: Jesus Carries His Cross, c.1934
Design for Thurstons for a Billiard Table, circa 1902