Brangwyn, Frank

(1867 – 1956)

Study, a Musician for Skinners Hall, circa 1902


Pencil and red chalk

14 1/2 x 15 1/3 (37 x 39 cm)

1 in stock


Private collection

In April 1902 the Court of the Skinners’ Company commissioned Brangwyn to paint six large panels (measuring 289.6 x 320 cm) and four small panels (289.6 x 152.4 cm) which would represent the “stir and colour of the long-drawn Pageant of the Guild”. A price of ¬£4000 was offered. By July it was decided to add a further panel in the Gallery (measuring 152.5 x 365cm) for which Brangwyn would be paid ¬£300, and it was expected that the panels, all oil on canvas, would be completed within five years (the scheme would not in fact be completed until the 1930’s). 

Brangwyn was sent a list of what were considered appropriate subjects together with an outline drawing of the Hall on which he sketched his proposals.
The first panel to be completed, Departure of Sir James Lancaster for the East Indies, 1594, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1904, the same year that Brangwyn was elected as an Associate. The second panel, River Procession, 1453, was delivered in March 1904. 

In 1912 the artist wrote that he would “never forget the obligation I am under to the Skinners Company for having given me an opportunity that has seldom if ever fallen to the lot of a British Artist in this Country, and it has always been my desire to complete my work at Skinners Hall to the best of my ability”. Herbert Furst noted the “impression of richness, sumptuousness, due to the co-operation of architecture and painting” and described them as “hanging draperies”, whilst Walter Shaw Sparrow felt the decorative panels revealed “such a breadth of vision, such a lyrical swing in design, such a superb virility in handling, as will ever be remarkable in the history of British art.” 

 We are grateful to Dr Libby Horner for assistance.

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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 of a Monk, full length three-quarter view, Study for St Aidan
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
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