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Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956):
Study of a blacksmith, for Canadian Grand Trunk Railway Offices, London
Unmounted (ref: 7071)
Signed with monogram
Red and black chalk on buff paper
21 x 13 in. (53 x 33 cm)
This drawing will appear as M2341 in Dr Libby Horner's forthcoming Catalogue Raisonne.
The Grand Trunk Railway London headquarters, at Cockspur Street, were designed by Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930). Brangwyn painted a mural frieze in tempera circa 1909.
It is surprising to learn that, other than as an apprentice to William Morris (1882), Brangwyn had no formal artistic training. While his near contemporaries Augustus John (1878-1961) and William Orpen (1878-1931) arguably had greater technical facility, Brangwyn’s vigorous approach to drawing and directness of observation place him amongst the greatest draughtsman of Twentieth Century British art. As the art critic T. W. Earp constated, ‘It is in the drawings ... that the key to Brangwyn’s greatness is to be found’.
In 1952, in the Preface to the Brangwyn exhibition at the Royal Academy, Gerald Kelly (1879-1972) made the apt, but unlikely comparison between Brangwyn’s drawings and cricket:
Besides loving painting, I have very much loved watching cricket. There were great cricketers in the old days, and one of the finest of them was Archie MacLaren. When he drove through the covers it was a most majestic and splendid thing to see. Brangwyn’s drawings give me exactly the same thrill.
We are grateful to Dr Libby Horner for assistance.