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Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956):
A Trader, Study for Selfridges
Mounted (ref: 6424)
Black chalk on paper
16 3/8 x 10 in. (41.5 x 25 cm)
Provenance: Father Jerome Esser
Literature: Frank Brangwyn, Drawings from the Collection of Father Jerome Esser, Liss Fine Art 2015, cat. 25, page 27.
Harry Gordon Selfridge, nicknamed ‘Mile a Minute Harry’, brought American ideas on
commerce and advertising to the British retail business. For his Oxford Street emporium, he commissioned Brangwyn to create a decoration in mosaic for the interior of a dome designed by Sir John Burnet. The huge dome, 70ft (21 metres) in diameter and 130ft (40 metres) above the ground, was to be tiled in mosaic, the subject being, appropriately enough, ‘Trade of the World’. Brangwyn designed the top of the dome as an inverted globe upon which he noted various countries, together with flora and fauna of those areas, whilst the lower parts were filled with exotically dressed people and traders, each
figure measuring some 16-17ft (5 metres) high. Unfortunately the mosaics were never executed because, apparently, the London County Council feared that the excessive weight might damage the underground railway.
We are grateful to Libby Horner for her assistance. This will appear as M2157 in her forthcoming Catalogue Raisonne of Brangwyn.